VIDEO: Up and out - Soundings Online

VIDEO: Up and out

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We’ve all seen dramatic helo hoist rescues of mariners far offshore, but here’s a near-shore aerial rescue performed on a small scale by a local sheriff’s office.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department dispatched a helicopter on Oct. 22 to rescue three men who were clinging to an overturned 12-foot inflatable boat about 300 yards offshore just south of the mouth of California’s Gualala River.

The men, who ranged in age from 34 to 66, were attempting to paddle the capsized boat with oars in 5- to 8-foot swells outside the surf line. Only one of the men was wearing a life jacket.

Because the surf conditions were hazardous and the men were short on personal flotation devices, the Henry 1 crew elected to evacuate them one by one from the disabled boat, using a 100-foot line rescue technique.

The operation was efficiency at its best and none of the men were injured.

They later told the Press-Democrat that they were fishing when a rogue wave came over the bow and capsized their boat.