Man rescued from Bellingham Bay after sailboat gets stuck

A sailor was rescued by a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter early Tuesday, Nov. 4, after his sailboat got stuck on mudflats in Bellingham Bay.

The Coast Guard was alerted of the overdue vessel at about 10:30 p.m. Monday by family members who communicated with the sailor on his cellphone. The Coast Guard was told he would be heading toward Gooseberry Point, said Chief Petty Officer Charles Gittings.

A helicopter found the missing sailboat shortly after 3 a.m. Tuesday near the northwest corner of Bellingham Bay. The man was clinging to the side of his boat in a survival suit, and the boat was listing in the shallow water and had torn sails, the Coast Guard said.

The man was airlifted to the Bellingham International Airport and had no injuries. The Coast Guard has not released any information about his identity.

“The aircrew did an excellent job on this case locating the boater at night in poor weather without a good reported position,” said Mike Allen, a search and rescue controller for the Coast Guard, in a press release. “We are very lucky this boater was able to contact family and communicate his situation before his cellphone battery died.”

The man told the Coast Guard he had become disoriented by the wind and rain, Gittings said. The Coast Guard said the winds at the time were 29 mph with 6-foot seas. The water temperature was 56 degrees.

The 38-foot single mast sailboat remained on the shore Tuesday, and the Coast Guard was unable to access the sailboat using their vessel, Gittings said. The Coast Guard was working with the sailor to salvage the boat, which they believe contains 10 gallons of fuel.