From the US Coast Guard, Sector Humboldt Bay:
Coast Guard members located a lost hiker Thursday near Manila and rescued three people aboard a sailing vessel 53 miles west of Eureka Friday.
Thursday night, at approximately 8:40 p.m., Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay watchstanders received a request from Humboldt County Sheriff’s department to assist in locating a 20-year-old male near the Manila Sand Dunes. Rescue 6606, an MH-65D helicopter from Coast Guard Sector Humboldt Bay was immediately dispatched to search the area while ground personnel from the local police department remained in contact with the distress male via cell phone.
As night fell, Rescue 6606 utilized night vision goggles and instructed the man to use a flashlight function on his cell phone which immediately made his position apparent to the four member rescue flight crew. The flight crew coordinated through the Coast Guard Sector Command Center with the Sherriff’s department ground crew to vector them towards the lost hiker and they returned him to safety.
At approximately 10:00 p.m., Sector Humboldt Bay received a radio call from an operator aboard the Kaloni, a 55-foot sailing vessel transiting from Bellingham, Washington to San Francisco.
The operator of the distressed vessel reported his vessel lost engine power and its sails were torn, but he and his crew were in no immediate danger. All three crew were unable to control the sailboat.
The operator reported the weather conditions off-shore deteriorated through the night with winds more than 40-miles per hour and swells between 15-20 feet. The crew became sea sick after several hours and the seas became increasingly dangerous beforethey requested for immediate evacuation by the Coast Guard.
RESCUE 6606, piloted by Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr Jason Bustamente and Lt. Cameron Welicka were dispatched by Sector Humboldt Bay to assist. RESCUE 6606 located the vessel Kaloni 53 nautical miles west of Eureka around 5:40 a.m., Friday. The weather conditions were around 65-miles-per-hour winds and seas of 25-feet. With coordination of the pilots and Flight Mechanic, Petty Officer 2nd Class John Clare, attempted to lower the Rescue Swimmer, Petty Officer 2nd Class Max Kaczmarek, directly to the sailboat to assess the condition of the survivors.
After two unsuccessful attempts to place the rescue swimmer aboard the distressed vessel, the rescue crew lowered Kaczmarek next to the vessel where the survivors entered the ocean and they were able to safely hoist them from the heavy seas one by one.
All three crew members were transported to Sector Humboldt Bay without any injuries.
“Those were by far the largest waves I have ever seen,” said Welicka. “It was truly a team effort that led to the successful rescue of the three mariners.”
“Fortunately, the hiker and sailors had the appropriate communications equipment to call for help and the Coast Guard was ready to respond quickly and effectively to safely save lives.” said Captain Art Snyder, Commander of Sector Humboldt Bay.