Coast Guard rescues stranded boaters near Admiralty

Posted: Thursday, August 08, 2002

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued six stranded boaters near Admiralty Island shortly after 1:30 p.m. today.

A seventh boater, Michael Stitt, 29, of Juneau, who was rescued from the island by a float plane early this morning, said no one was injured when two boats carrying himself and six others were overtaken by waves Wednesday night and washed onto the beach.

The group spent the night on a stretch of beach near the beginning of Young's Bay just past Horse and Colt islands, Stitt said today.

The boaters included Stitt and Darrell Weatherell, 31, both of Juneau; Doug Green, 31, Sara Dillon, 24, and Matt Cooper, 24, all of Washington state; Okawa Yasuhiro, no age given, of Japan; and Kerry Graham, 26, of British Columbia, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard first heard of the incident when Juneau police dispatch relayed a 911 cell phone call at 9:46 a.m. today from a man who said seven people were stranded near Admiralty Island, said Coast Guard spokesman Roger Wetherell.

The Coast Guard dispatched at 9:52 a.m. a 47-foot rescue boat and the cutter Anthony Petit to the Admiralty area, Wetherell said.

Stitt said he contacted the Coast Guard about 12:40 p.m. today to tell authorities where the stranded people were.

Stitt said the boaters were on their way to Admiralty Island around 5 p.m. Wednesday to stay at a cabin, when the sea turned rough.

"We were kind of suckered into keeping going," said Stitt today. "It would calm down for a little bit and then it would start picking up again."

Along the way the two boats a 16-foot cutty cabin, operated by Weatherell, and an 18-foot skiff, operated by Stitt were separated, but both boats were sticking close to the shoreline, Stitt said.

When the cutty and the skiff caught up with each other, Stitt said he saw that the cutty had run out of gas.

"I went to go help him, but I saw he was already getting washed up on shore," Stitt said. "The waves had to have been about six feet and pretty intense. They just overwhelmed his boat, flooded it and then beat it up on shore. It put a hole in his hull. It wasn't too fun."

As Stitt drove closer to the cutty, his skiff too was overtaken by waves. He said the water flooded the boat and contaminated the gas in the engine, causing his engine to stall and the boat to wash up on shore.

Stitt said the group of boaters decided to stay on the island for the night. Around 10:30 a.m. today, the pilot of a Tal Air float plane spotted the group. He had room for one passenger and so he carried Stitt back to Juneau.

Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com



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