A man was hoisted aboard a U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from shallow water near his grounded burning sailboat Tuesday, July 24. The man did not sustain serious injuries. The vessel burned to the water line.
Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, located in Seattle, received a report at approximately 1:30 a.m. of a red flare and possible vessel on fire approximately one-half mile southwest of Spieden Island and one mile north of San Juan Island.
A MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Port Angeles and a 33-foot Special Purpose Craft Law Enforcement crew from Station Bellingham were launched. Both crews arrived on scene to find a 24-foot sailing vessel on fire and a man standing in shallow water near the blaze.
The SPC-LE crew was able to get within earshot of the man and learned he was the only person on board. Due to the shallow, rocky bottom, the SPC-LE crew could not reach the man. A rescue swimmer was lowered from the helicopter.
The helicopter crew transported the man to Bellingham where he was placed in the care of local EMS. No major injuries were reported.
The cause of the fire has not been determined. The vessel contained approximately 20 gallons of gasoline.