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VIDEO: A novice sailor and a moonless night

It’s hard to begrudge a man for having a passion for sailing. But you can begrudge him when he’s a novice who buys a sailboat and takes it on a solo shakedown cruise on a moonless night, guided only by the GPS on his cellphone.

The Coast Guard saved the man at 5 a.m. after he ran aground Jan. 9 near the Piedras Blancas Lighthouse in San Simeon, Calif.

The skipper of the 32-foot sailboat called the Coast Guard on his cellphone at about 3 a.m. after the mast broke and his radio became inoperable, according to a Coast Guard statement.

An Air Station San Francisco helicopter crew recovered him by lowering a rescue swimmer to the damaged vessel.

A Coast Guard crewman interviews the skipper after his rescue.

The local newspaper, The Cambrian, ran a story about the incident. According to reports from Richard Stacy of the North Coast Ocean Rescue Team, who spoke with the sailor, and Cal Fire and Coast Guard sources, this is what happened:

The man had recently purchased the sailboat and departed from the Bay Area, headed for Morro Bay, under diesel power. He mistook Piedras Blancas Lighthouse for San Simeon Point and steered eastward.

He narrowly missed the landmark rock at Piedras Blancas and ran aground on the rocky shore just north of the lighthouse. The impact broke the mast, disabling the radio. The mast struck the man, and he lost his grip on his cellphone.

He found his cellphone, called 911 and was connected to the Coast Guard in Los Angeles. He was uninjured.

Salvage plans were in the works to pull the holed boat off the rocks.