Lost in the noise of the storm passing through Puget Sound this weekend was one of the casualties of the same system off the coast of northern Oregon. Alone aboard his 40-foot sailboat The Rock, Duane Jones ran into trouble off the Tillamook Bar on the evening of September 28th. With the bar entrance closed to traffic and storm conditions building, Jones contacted the Coast Guard and asked to be taken off his boat. In addition to the building winds, 20 foot waves, and gathering darkness, there was one other serious obstacle to the helicopter rescue operation: Jones would have to jump into the frigid waters of the North Pacific so the chopper could lower the basket to him without fear of becoming entangled in the boat’s rigging.
Although the request to separate sailors from their vessel before beginning hoist operations is a common one, mustering the courage to take such a leap in the dark, in twenty foot seas, in icy waters that can kill in a matter of minutes is not so common at all. Jones’ leap (and subsequent rescue by basket hoist) is captured in Coast Guard video of the incident:
Jones was recovered without injury and transported to Air Station Astoria. The Coast Guard plans another operation to locate his vessel after the storm passes, although salvage will be a choice left to the owner.
“This guy did the right thing in letting us know that he was experiencing difficulties and then asking for help when things got beyond his control,” said Petty Officer 1st Class William Whitford, an operations specialist at Sector Columbia River, reminding all mariners to carry the appropriate equipment to cope with adverse conditions common this time of year in our waters, and to not hesitate to contact the Coast Guard before a bad situation escalates.
Update 10/03/13 1302: The Seattle Times is now reporting that The Rock, the vessel from which Jones was evacuated last Saturday, has washed ashore at Ocean Shores, Washington, and is breaking apart in heavy surf.