Coast Guard rescues 4 people who abandoned ship off Washington coast during storm

WARRENTON, Ore. -- The U.S. Coast Guard rescued four people who abandoned ship in two different incidents Thursday night off the Washington coast.

Officials said there were 20-foot seas with wind gusts up to 50 mph at the time.

In one rescue, three people aboard a 45-foot sailing vessel reported their ship was taking on water about 40 miles northwest of Grays Harbor. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter and a life boat crew were launched to rescue them.  The Soteria was abandoned and is now adrift along the northern Washington coast, officials said.

In the other rescue, the Coast Guard received reports of a 39-foot sailing vessel in distress because of the weather about 21 miles offshore from Willapa Bay. Crewmembers helped orient the boater and directed him to sail toward safe harbor. Eventually the vessel lost its mast and could no longer navigate. The Coast Guard advised the boater to put on a survival suit and abandon ship. Crews arrived soon after and rescued the boater from the water.

"Both of these cases illustrate how extremely important it is to not only check weather conditions before you go out, but to also have the proper safety gear on your vessel," said Lt. J.g. Isaac Yates of Sector Columbia Center's Command Center. "At a minimum, people operating on the open ocean should have proper life jackets, immersion suits, a form of communication such as a VHF radio, signaling devices and an electronic position indicating beacon. Given the real potential for injury or death in these situations, we are all very fortunate to have met such a positive outcome."