A Juneau fisherman and his two dogs are safe, after being rescued by the Coast Guard in Freshwater Bay, about 18 miles southeast of Hoonah, Tuesday morning (10-19-22).
A mayday call from the 33-foot vessel Bailey Bay was received by Coast Guard headquarters in Juneau shortly before 5 a.m. The Bailey Bay’s skipper, Robert Johnson, reported that the boat was taking on water, and that he was the lone person aboard, besides his two dogs.
That was the last call Johnson was able to make from the Bailey Bay.
Coast Guard personnel from Station Juneau, Air Station Sitka, and the cutter Douglas Denman responded to the call. Several vessels in the area also heard the call, and they were able to help the Coast Guard narrow down the search area.
A helicopter from Air Station Sitka located Johnson on the beach in Freshwater Bay. He was wearing a survival suit, and signaling the helicopter with a handheld flare.
In a news release, Lt. Trevor Layman, with the Sector Juneau Command Center, said that the help of other mariners, plus Johnson’s own preparedness, contributed to the rescue. “All these factors allowed us to do our job in an efficient manner to bring the man and his dogs safely home,” he said.
The Bailey Bay, a 33-foot fiberglass fishing vessel, was located by the crew of the Douglas Denman, who arrived on scene and found it submerged. The Douglas Denman launched a small boat crew to inspect the wreckage and reported that the vessel was producing a small sheen.
The Bailey Bay reportedly has less than 75 gallons of diesel fuel onboard and is currently sunk in 30 feet of water with minimal sheening. The vessel owner plans to conduct salvage operations.
The cause of the incident is currently under investigation.