On Friday, a man was rescued by a newly certified Coast Guard rescue swimmer after a large wave rocked the yacht he was sailing and flung him into the surf near the mouth of the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington.
A Coast Guard helicopter captured footage of the spectacular rescue. Petty Officer Michael Clark reported receiving a mayday call at 10 a.m. with no further details.
The Coast Guard crews on vessels and in a helicopter who happened to be training nearby responded after triangulating a general location for the call. The P/C Sandpiper, a yacht measuring 35 feet (11 meters), was observed taking on water in waves measuring 20 feet (6 meters), with Clark estimating that the height of a wave from the previous trough may be as high as 40 feet (12 meters).
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After completing the Coast Guard’s rescue swimmer program, the rescue swimmer was lowered from the helicopter using a cable for his very first rescue. The man on board the boat saw him approaching and climbed onto the back in preparation to jump off.
A massive wave crashed into the boat at that precise moment, tossing him into the water. The force of the wave was so great that it flipped the boat over, and now it floats right side up.
The swimmer located the man in the water and helped him climb into the waiting MH-60 Jayhawk. Mild hypothermia was treated at Coast Guard Base Astoria after the crew transported him there.
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For a new rescue swimmer, “it’s a bit of a christening,” Clark remarked.