HOOD CANAL – Emergency personnel made two water rescues in two days this week in Kitsap County, reminders that while our local waters are beautiful, they can be dangerous.
At 1:33 p.m. June 14, a kayaker was rescued after his kayak overturned a mile from shore in Seabeck.
Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue were alerted to a Coast Guard report of an emergency beacon one mile west of Scenic Beach State Park. Crews from Station 56 on Seabeck Highway were first to arrive at the scene, CKFR spokeswoman Ileana LiMarzi reported.
“Firefighters and the battalion chief located the kayaker one mile from shore, drooped over the bow of his kayak,” LiMarzi reported. “Crews were able to secure a private vessel to assist with the rescue and CKFR’s Boat 51 arrived and staged at the boat launch as a backup vessel. Working with the Coast Guard helicopter, one male patient was rescued and transported by boat back to the Misery Point boat launch where he was evaluated for minor injuries and released.”
According to LiMarzi, several factors contributed to the kayaker’s rescue: He was wearing a life jacket, and carried and activated an automated emergency beacon. A local resident lent CKFR a boat. And a Coast Guard helicopter was quickly at the scene.
On June 13, the Coast Guard rescued two people and four dogs from a vessel taking on water 1.5 miles east of Point No Point.
A Coast Guard Station Seattle crewmember plugged a hull in the vessel and used a dewatering pump to stabilize the boat before the remainder of the rescue crew towed the boat to Edmonds Marina.
No injuries were reported.
Watchstanders in the Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound command center responded to a call for help from the captain of a 26-foot pleasure craft, at about 8:30 p.m., reporting his vessel was taking on water. The watchstanders issued an urgent marine information broadcast requesting assistance from any mariners in the area and also dispatched a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Port Angeles and a 45-foot response boat from Seattle.
The crew of the Victoria Clipper, a catamaran-style passenger vessel, was in the area and stood by with the pleasure craft in case the captain and passengers had to abandon the vessel. The Dolphin aircrew arrived on scene at about 9 p.m., and the response boat crew arrived on scene at about 9:20 p.m., the Coast Guard reported.
A crewmember from the response boat climbed aboard the vessel with a dewatering pump, located a hole in the stern of the vessel and plugged it, then pumped nearly 2 feet of water from the vessel. The boat crew then towed the vessel to safety.
The weather conditions: 5 mph winds, one-foot seas, and a water and air temperature of about 55 degrees.
The mishaps were the third and fourth incidents on local waters in less than two months. The first ended tragically: CKFR personnel found a 12-year-old boy, unresponsive, in Island Lake on May 3, 20 minutes after being notified that he had failed to return from swimming. The boy later died.
On May 22, two kayakers were rescued near Port Gamble Bay after their kayaks overturned. They were wearing life jackets.
“A common misconception is that boating accidents occur during bad weather, when in fact one half of recreational boating fatalities happen on calm water,” the U.S. Coast Guard reports. “Nine out of 10 drownings happen on inland waters and a few hundred feet from shore.”
According to the Coast Guard, all boats – including canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards – must have at least one properly fitted, serviceable, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person on the boat.
“Wearing a life jacket, regardless of whether or not a state or federal law requires one to be worn, is the single greatest factor in preventing death from drowning,” Capt. Scott Johnson, USCG, said in a statement issued by the Coast Guard. He is chief of the Office of Auxiliary and Boating Safety at Coast Guard Headquarters.
“All boaters should wear a lifejacket at all times when on the water, no matter your age, physical ability, or condition.”
In addition, Johnson said all boaters should “take a boating safety course, attach your engine cut-off switch, get a free vessel safety check, and avoid alcohol or other impairing substance consumption.”
According to the Coast Guard, there were 701 recreational boating deaths nationwide in 2016, the highest number of yearly boating fatalities on record in the last five years. Injuries increased 11.1 percent, from 2,613 to 2,903; and the total number of recreational boating accidents increased 7.3 percent, from 4,158 to 4,463, the Coast Guard reported.
— Richard Walker is managing editor of Kitsap News Group. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.