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

Though the marine portion of the search for a missing 53-year-old Bellingham sailor was called off Tuesday, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office continued looking on land near where his boat was found.

Unfortunately, the search for Nick Saling continued to be unsuccessful Wednesday, Oct. 23, Lt. Scott Huso told The Bellingham Herald.

“We still have volunteers with Summit to Sound Search and Rescue and Bellingham Mountain Rescue searching on the island along with many friends and associates of Mr. Saling,” Huso told The Herald. “We are in the process of evaluating further steps to be taken from here.”

The U.S. Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound was notified by 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.

Huso confirmed Tuesday evening that Saling was a Bellingham resident.

The search for Saling continued into the night Monday, with the 87-foot Coast Guard Cutter Terrapin remaining on scene to use infrared cameras to search in the dark before helicopters from the Coast Guard and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island rejoined the search along with smaller boats from Coast Guard Station Bellingham.

But the search revealed no new leads to Saling’s location, Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier told The Herald, and at 3 p.m. Tuesday the Coast Guard suspended its search for Saling in the water.

According to a press release from the Coast Guard Tuesday evening, more than 360 square nautical miles were searched over 15 hours. Most of those efforts were centered near Lummi Island, where helicopters were seen searching.

“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.”

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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.