Coast Guard rescues two people from sinking vessel near Whitesboro, California

MCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. — The Coast Guard rescued two people after their sailing vessel began taking on water one nautical mile offshore from Albion River near Whitesboro, Calif., Sunday. 

Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay command center watchstanders received a notification just after midnight of the sailing vessel Playtime reportedly hitting a submerged object in heavy fog. The vessel began taking on water with two people onboard who only had their cell phones and emergency flares available.  

At approximately 1 a.m. watchstanders directed the launch of a Coast Guard Station Noyo River 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew and a Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew. 

The boatcrew arrived on scene at 1:45 a.m. and recovered both people from the vessel. The survivors were transported by the boatcrew to Fort Bragg, Calif., in good condition. 

The Playtime was determined unsafe to attempt to salvage and was reported submerged with Sector Humboldt Bay issuing a broadcast to alert mariners of a potential hazard-to-navigation. 

“This case could have gone south quickly,” said Capt. Mark Hiigel, commander, Sector Humboldt Bay. “Search and rescue, especially at night, is inherently risky and is almost always a difficult mission to complete. The more a mariner is prepared with appropriate safety gear and emergency communications, the more likely there will be a successful outcome.” 

The Coast Guard recommends the following safety tips for boaters:

  • Carry a VHF-FM marine radio and monitor Channel 16 for current ocean forecast and emergency marine broadcast information. Cell phones can be helpful, but not reliable for emergencies as they often lose signal and can run out of a fully-charged battery. 
  • Have and register an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB) as they provide the fastest and most accurate way for response crews to locate and rescue people in distress.
  • Always wear a lifejacket. The Coast Guard estimates that life jackets could save more than 80 percent of boating fatality victims.


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