U.S. Coast Guard crews rescued a man who became separated from his kayak off the windy Bodega Bay coast Sunday afternoon.
The man was checking his crab pots near the Bodega Bay jetty when winds blew the kayak further off shore around 1 p.m., according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s helicopter Henry 1 was patrolling the coast at the time and arrived in less than five minutes. The helicopter searched south of the jetty as a Coast Guard lifeboat left the Bodega Bay harbor to join the search.
The helicopter crew located the empty kayak about a mile off shore between Doran and Dillon beaches, more than 3 miles from the original search location, sheriff’s officials said.
The helicopter landed on a bluff so a deputy could put on a wetsuit and prepare for a long-line aerial rescue, then flew south of the kayak to continue the search.
The Coast Guard’s 147-foot lifeboat headed north, and a man was spotted on shore about four minutes later. The Coast Guard continued the search to be sure the kayaker was no longer in the water, Coast Guard Bodega Bay officer in charge Jeremiah Wolf said.
“Out mantra is always be ready, and they kept searching” Wolf said.
The lifeboat crew found the missing kayaker in the water about a mile south of the jetty and more than a mile offshore, Wolf said. Two crewmen on the lifeboat were able to lift the man out of the water and into the boat.
“He had a leak in his dry suit and water got inside. He was hypothermic and if not for his life jacket, this would be a different story,” Wolf said.
Bodega Bay Volunteer Fire Department medics examined the man on shore and he was taken to a hospital for treatment of hypothermia, according to the sheriff’s office. The Coast Guard recovered the man’s kayak.