California

Watch rescuers save teen sailors as wind, water threaten boat off California coast

U.S. Coast Guard officers rescued two teen sailors on Tuesday in Northern California’s Tomales Bay, and now authorities have released a video that captures the windy, dramatic scene.

The rescue effort began after a local yacht club contacted the Coast Guard around 6 p.m. to report that seven sailboats — each with two sailors aboard — were struggling to stay afloat in the narrow bay north of San Francisco, according to the Coast Guard.

Three of those boats capsized, while the others took on water, the Coast Guard said.

Coast Guard crews launched two 47-foot rescue boats from their station in Bodega Bay. The Marin County Fire Department, Inverness Fire Department and a Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office helicopter also responded, according to the Coast Guard.

When the rescuers reached the boats, they spotted one in particular that was taking on water, authorities said.

That’s when Daniel Langley, a Coast Guard machinery technician at Bodega Bay, dived into the water and swam to the boat, video shows. The Coast Guard said a swimmer was used “due to the strong winds creating unstable conditions for the sailboat.”

The rescue was a success: The two teenagers were brought aboard the rescue boat and the crew rid their sailboat of water, then put the teens and their boat aboard an Inverness Fire Department boat so they could all make it back to shore, according to the Coast Guard.

“The key factor in this rescue was that the sailors were equipped with the proper rescue equipment and gear,” Bryan Thurman, a Coast Guard crew member on the rescue, said in a statement.

Thurman added that in chilly bay water — with temperatures that reach the low 50s — the sailors’ wetsuits helped keep them from getting hypothermia.

“While the crewmembers at Station Bodega Bay train constantly for heavy weather rescues, the weather in Tomales Bay can turn quickly and wearing the right equipment can drastically help a person’s chances of survival,” Thurman said.

A yacht club safety vessel reportedly helped the other dozen sailors and their boats return safely to land, according to the Coast Guard, which added that “all of the sailors were wearing wetsuits, life jackets, and helmets.”

No medical problems were reported.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.
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