Dramatic video shows the moments that a U.S. Coast Guard rescue swimmer helped retrieve two Canadian sailors from a damaged boat near Vancouver Island.
The rescue occurred around 11 a.m. Tuesday south of the Port Renfrew area.
The mariners were on a sailboat that was adrift and taking on water. It had a broken propeller and ripped sails, and its generator had died, according to the coast guard.
“They sounded like they were kind of in panic mode a little bit,” said aviation survival technician 2nd class Brian Notheis, the rescue swimmer in the video.
“They’d been out there for at least a couple days in that situation where they’re just drifting,” he said.
The weather was stormy during the rescue, which made things difficult for the search crew that arrived by helicopter.
“The weather was a little bit worse than we had planned going out,” said aviation maintenance safety technician 2nd class Chris McDonald, who was the hoist operator in the helicopter.
“It ended up being about 15 foot (4.5 metre) seas and 30 knot winds and the sailboat was pitching and rolling pretty violently down there,” said McDonald.
Story continues below.
#ICYMI: Yesterday, #USCG aircrew from Air Station Astoria rescued 2 Canadian men from a sinking sailing vessel 80 miles offshore of Neah Bay, WA. Both men are in stable condition. pic.twitter.com/fpRxqDIEvV
— USCGPacificNorthwest (@USCGPacificNW) October 12, 2023
The rescue crew wasn’t able to lift the two sailors directly off the boat because its sails and masts were in the way.
That’s when the team decided to put Notheis in the water.
“This was my – I’ve been doing this for almost 11 years, this job – and this was my most dynamic and challenging case that I’ve had,” he said.
That being said, Notheis thinks the rescue went as smoothly as it could have. Both men were cold and rattled but in stable condition when they were hoisted onto the helicopter.
The pair were then brought to Port Angeles, Washington, before being released to the Canadian Border Patrol.
The U.S. Coast Guard recommends that anyone who plans on sailing check the weather and avoid stormy conditions if they’re in the forecast. It also recommends that people wear life jackets while on the water and have emergency gear prepared, such as maps, flares, a radio and a GPS.
“We want everybody who’s wanting to come into U.S. waters and sail a boat or whatever to know that we’re coming out regardless of who it is,” said Notheis. “We love our neighbours to the north and we’re ready to respond and help out anytime.”