‘We have exhausted all our assets,’ Coast Guard says, suspending Lummi Island search

Wednesday update: Though Coast Guard suspends efforts, search for missing Bellingham sailor resumes

The U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 17, suspended its marine search for a man who went missing while sailing in the Salish Sea near Lummi Island last weekend.

“At 3 p.m., the Coast Guard suspended the search for the individual, which concludes the water-born portion of the search,” Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier told The Bellingham Herald. “Local law enforcement may be continuing their search on land, but we have done all that we can do.”

The Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound was notified by 53-year-old Nick Saling’s sister at 11:30 a.m. Monday that he had failed to return on Sunday night after a sailing trip to Cypress Island, according to a Coast Guard press release Monday.

Saling’s 25-foot, yellow sailboat was located northeast of Lummi Island, Monday’s release said.

Lt. Scott Huso of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office said Search and Rescue coordinator Deputy Mark Jilk and some volunteers gathered on Lummi Island Tuesday morning to do a ground search of the area where Saling’s boat was found.

The 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin remained on scene Monday night and continued to use infrared cameras to search for Saling.

Strohmaier said smaller boats from Coast Guard Station Bellingham re-joined the Cutter Terrapin in the search Tuesday morning. A Coast Guard helicopter from Port Angeles also lent air support to the search, as did a second helicopter from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

But the search revealed no new leads to Saling’s location, Strohmaier said.

“We’d like to reach out and give our sympathy to the victim’s family that we have not found him,” Strohmaier told The Herald. “Unfortunately, we have exhausted all our assets in resources and crews and his location is still unknown.”

Strohmaier said he does not know Saling’s hometown.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.