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Coast Guard helicopter saves two boaters in high seas off Morro Bay

A Coast Guard helicopter plucked two men from a disabled boat in high seas early Tuesday morning after they called for help about 31 miles northwest of Morro Bay.
A Coast Guard helicopter plucked two men from a disabled boat in high seas early Tuesday morning after they called for help about 31 miles northwest of Morro Bay.

A Coast Guard helicopter plucked two men from a disabled boat in high seas early Tuesday morning after they called for help about 31 miles northwest of Morro Bay.

Petty Officer Ryan Fogarty said the Coast Guard received a distress call about 9:15 p.m. Monday from the operator of a 24-foot sailboat that had been damaged in severe weather conditions. Fogarty said the vessel had a broken mast and lost electrical power, and its radio antenna had been snapped.

The Coast Guard launched a motor lifeboat from the Morro Bay station, but the hazardous weather, which Fogarty said included 10- to 14-foot swells and 30-mph winds, prevented crews from safely towing the vessel back into the harbor.

“Visibility was restricted, and it wasn’t the safest decision to make,” said Fogarty, noting both boaters were uninjured. “We went through several different options, but with the weather, we wouldn’t get them safely on board.”

They were extremely prepared. Having that extra radio definitely saved their lives.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Ryan Fogarty

The Coast Guard rescued the boaters about 7 a.m. Tuesday, using a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter to hoist them off the damaged vessel. The two men were taken to San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, where medical personnel were standing by.

Fogarty said the Coast Guard was still monitoring the vessel Tuesday afternoon, and he hoped it would be safely salvaged.

Fogarty also praised the two experienced boaters for having life jackets, an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB), a life raft and a backup radio.

“They were extremely prepared,” Fogarty said. “Having that extra radio definitely saved their lives.”

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