Emergency crews rescued a 43-year-old Lompoc man Monday afternoon off the coast of Montaña de Oro State Park in Los Osos after his kayak overturned.
“He got tied up in some kelp and scrambled for the rocks,” said Capt. Tim Wilcox of County/Cal Fire Station 15, South Bay. “He was hunkering down and just getting blasted with the waves washing over him. A big set nearly scrubbed him off. Time was of the essence.”
The kayaker, identified by State Parks as Guy Harvell, clung to a rock in Corallina Cove about 50 feet offshore for just under an hour before he was rescued, reportedly uninjured, at roughly 1 p.m.
After assessing Harvell’s location, emergency crews determined that the conditions were best to send in a CHP helicopter rescue team to retrieve him.
A rescuer was lowered from the helicopter and placed a collar under Harvell’s armpits, Wilcox said. Then the helicopter hoisted Harvell and the rescuer up from the rocks and airlifted them to the top of the bluff.
An unnamed man who identified himself as Harvell’s roommate said he and his friends visited the coast for Labor Day to kayak and fish.
“We usually make a day of it, but this was not the day we were hoping for,” the roommate said, moments after leaving a group of emergency personnel who had just wrapped Harvell in a yellow tarp for warmth.
Harvell’s kayak, marked with the words “Barely Floatin” on the side, was also pulled from the water. Its homemade outrigger, made from a plastic pipe, was broken on one end.
Wilcox said County/Cal Fire had been training at Montaña de Oro earlier Monday and saw the kayaker, equipped in a wetsuit and life vest, go out to fish in the ocean at about 9:30 a.m.
After the rescue, the man was cleared to go home, Wilcox said.
Several agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard and State Parks, responded to the incident.