A helicopter from Air Station Sitka hoisted two Juneau boaters to safety after their landing craft ran aground in last Saturday’s gale.
The pair’s distress call came into Coast Guard headquarters over VHF radio at 12:40 a.m. on Saturday (10-1-22). They reported that their landing craft, the Windchaser, was on the rocks in Pavlov Harbor, about 23 miles southeast of Hoonah, and that they were wearing life jackets and were preparing to abandon ship. Communication with the pair was then lost.
Watch: Coast Guard rescues 2 after boat grounds southwest of Juneau, Alaska
The Coast Guard launched the helicopter crew, along with a response boat crew from Station Juneau and the Coast Guard Cutter Pike, as well as issuing an urgent marine information broadcast to alert mariners in the area.
Air Station Sitka flew to the area and located the man and woman, who were stranded on a beach in low-visibility. They had signaled the helicopter with hand held flares. Both survivors exhibited symptoms of hypothermia. They were hoisted aboard and flown to awaiting EMS personnel in Juneau for medical evaluation.
In a news release, co-pilot Lt. Cody Eager wrote, “Thankfully the mariners had handheld flares that we could see through the driving rain. Without those light sources, our chances of seeing them would have been drastically reduced due to extremely poor visibility.”
Conditions around the time of the rescue included gale warnings with sustained winds of 25-35 mph, with gusts up to 40, and 5-foot seas.