Two people were rescued by the Coast Guard after their boat sank Friday afternoon off of Westport.
The boat, a small folding watercraft, took on water over the bow and sank, said duty surfman Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Lutz of Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor.
The initial call came in at 4:57 p.m. on Friday. The station sortied a pair of boats to locate and rescue the boaters, Lutz said, as their location wasn’t entirely clear, with communications being relayed through the sector headquarters before arriving at the station.
The boaters, on the bay side of Westport about a quarter-mile from the marina, were located and rescued after spending about 20 minutes in the water. It can be easy for boaters whose primary experience is on lakes to underestimate the power and variability of the ocean, Lutz said.
The boaters were showing mild signs of hypothermia when they were pulled out of the water, including shivering and difficulty speaking, Lutz said; while both boaters were wearing life jackets, they were not wearing exposure gear for the 59-degree water temperature.
“People that have never been out here don’t understand that it’s a dangerous and hazardous area,” Lutz said.
The boaters were handed off to personnel from South Beach Regional Fire Authority, said Battalion Commander Daryl Brown. Firefighters evaluated the boaters for hypothermia and gave them a ride to their vehicle.
Wearing a life jacket, having appropriate clothing for the air and water conditions, filing a float plan, and having a marine radio can all save crucial minutes in an emergency, Lutz said.
“We’re all about preventative search and rescue,” Lutz said. “If anyone has any questions they can contact the unit at 360-268-0121.”
Boaters in the area can also contact the Coast Guard on VHF channel 16, Lutz said.
Boat inspections, such as those the Coast Guard offers in spring, can also save a lot of trouble, said Capt. Keith Zelepuza of SBRFA.
“They do it as a courtesy thing,” Zelepuza said. “They don’t write tickets or anything.”
Contact Senior Reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or email@example.com.