Peninsula Daily News
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The man, who was not identified, was hoisted from his life raft into an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and transported to Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles in a reportedly severe hypothermic state.
He had been clinging to his partially submerged life raft for almost an hour before he was rescued.
The 25-foot pleasure craft Dawn Trader became engulfed in flames, split in half and sank.
An unknown amount of fuel was aboard, the Coast Guard said.
Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound in Seattle received a mayday call on VHF-FM channel 16 from the operator of the Dawn Trader at about 11 a.m.
The boat was on fire, he said, and he was donning a survival suit and abandoning ship into his life raft.
The Dolphin aircrew and a 25-foot response boat crew from Coast Guard Station Neah Bay were launched.
Good Samaritans aboard a nearby vessel also offered to assist in the search.
Both Coast Guard crews arrived in the vicinity of the original distress call at about 11:50 a.m. and began searching for the man.
Heavy fog reduced visibility in the area to 100 feet.
The life raft’s onboard GPS was malfunctioning and the man’s flares did not fire correctly, further complicating the search.
The aircrew used the signal from the man’s handheld marine radio and the direction finding capabilities of the Dolphin helicopter to locate the life raft.
They found the man clinging to the partially submerged raft and hoisted him into the Dolphin at noon.
“The fact that the survivor had a raft and handheld radio most likely saved his life,” said Lt. Cmdr. Edward Geraghty, the aircraft commander aboard the Dolphin.
“The extensive search area and difficult conditions we encountered would have made locating him nearly impossible had we not been able to hone in on his radio transmission with the helicopter’s direction finding system.”
The boat crew found the man’s life raft and disposed of it.
This was the first operational rescue at sea for the Dolphin aircrew’s aviation survival technician and flight mechanic.