Blake Arnold ()

Swimmer cancels today’s planned attempt to cross Strait of Juan de Fuca

PORT ANGELES –– A Coast Guard rescue swimmer and advanced helicopter rescue instructor has called off an attempt to swim the Strait of Juan de Fuca that he had planned today.

Blake Arnold, an aviation survival technician first class stationed at the U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Ala., had planned to swim about 10 miles from Sooke, B.C., to Crescent Bay today but said the forecast is calling for more fog.

The Coast Guard waterways division, in conjunction with Vessel Traffic Service, recommended he cancel the trip.

“They had a recommendation not to go based on the fog, and I wasn’t going to go against their recommendation,” he said.

If he had only a quarter-mile of visibility, he was worried about crossing the paths of container ships that frequent the Strait, he said.

Arnold traveled to Port Angeles on Monday with plans of doing the swim in a wetsuit.

When Arnold purchased his airline ticket to Port Angeles, he had an escort boat secured, but repairs for that boat fell behind schedule and the plan fell through, he said.

Shortly after arriving to Port Angeles, he was able to secure a boat, but with fog, he said he didn’t want to put anyone at risk.

Arnold said he hopes to return to Port Angeles, possibly next summer, to attempt the swim.

Arnold has been in the Coast Guard for 14 years and a rescue swimmer for the past 11 years.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 5550, or at jmajor@peninsuladailynews.com.

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