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Man, dog rescued from sailboat that crashed onto rocks in Bellingham Bay

A Bellingham man and his dog were rescued from a 38-foot sailboat, Hello Gorgeous, early Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016.
A Bellingham man and his dog were rescued from a 38-foot sailboat, Hello Gorgeous, early Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2016. The Bellingham Herald

A man and his dog were rescued from a sailboat that crashed onto rocks Tuesday morning along the shore of Bellingham Bay.

Hello Gorgeous had been anchored in the bay, lit up with Christmas lights north of Boulevard Park. Jody Winningham was awake aboard his 38-foot home when the boat started drifting around 6:30 a.m. Winningham couldn’t stop the boat against 3- to 5-foot waves, and winds over 20 mph.

Crews at the U.S. Coast Guard station in Bellingham received a distress signal as the boat was still drifting, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Nelson said. The fiberglass boat hit a rocky sea wall south of an abandoned pier by the end of Cornwall Avenue, where a massive Horizon Lines container ship was moored until this year.

The sailboat stayed above water as a 45-foot Coast Guard response boat rushed across the bay. A crew of four rescued Winningham and his dog, a 40-pound pit bull mix, from the vessel. Winningham declined medical aid.

Hours later, safe on shore, Winningham wondered aloud to a reporter how the anchor might have come loose. Hit by a log, maybe? He was “baffled,” because after his boat came loose a few years ago, he said, he has been the one reminding other sailors to take extra precautions with their anchors.

In the afternoon the boat remained intact, with the deck half-submerged, and a tall rolled-up teal sail sticking high into the air. About 26 gallons of diesel and 12 gallons of gasoline remained on board. Winningham said it was safely sealed, and the Coast Guard had not called in spill cleanup crews.

How badly the boat was punctured remains to be determined. Winningham, who has owned the boat for about 10 years, plans to recover it to make repairs.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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