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Two men rescued off Homer after boat engine fails

Posted: August 21, 2014 - 11:27am

The Homer Coast Guard Auxiliary and two crewmembers from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Roanoke Island rescued two mariners with boat trouble in lower Cook Inlet early Friday morning. The boat, a 23-foot fiberglass cabin cruiser, lost power about 5 miles west of Point Pogibshi and about 20 miles southwest of Homer near Kachemak Bay. Crew on the 36-foot Homer Auxiliary boat Quanah P towed the boat back to the Homer Harbor, arriving safely about 5:30 a.m.

Auxiliary member Marshall Bullock, the Quanah P’s cockswain, said the two men on the boat wore float coats.

“Despite the rain and despite the wind they were as warm as comfortable as they can be for drifting around,” Bullock said.

According to a Coast Guard press release, Coast Guard Sector Anchorage received a call by VHF marine radio late Thursday night from the boaters that their main outboard motor had quit working. The boat had a small kicker engine, but had trouble bucking the outgoing tide, Bullock said. The boat also had limited fuel. The Coast Guard issued a marine assistance request broadcast, and when no one responded, called the auxiliary.

Marshall said because other auxilliarists weren’t available, a machinery technician and a cadet officer from the Roanoke Island assisted. Sector Anchorage set up a communications schedule and kept in contact with the disabled boat. 

Bullock said while the Quanah P was on the way, mariners on the Northern Spirit, a fishing tender,  responded and tried unsuccessfully to help repair the engine. The Quanah P then arrived and after also being unable to help, took the disabled boat into tow.

“They were heading out to sea,” Bullock said of the disabled boat. “That’s when the urgency level rose up a little.”

The tide shifted later in the morning, which helped the Quanah P bring the disabled boat back to Homer. Bullock said the disabled boat had all the proper gear, including lights and marine radio. Out in Cook Inlet, conditions were 2-foot seas with a 15 mph wind.

Lt. j.g. Laura Gadziala, a command duty officer at Sector Anchorage, praised the work of the auxiliary.

“The Coast Guard Auxiliary is a vital part of our ability to assist mariners in Alaska,” she said. “Our partnership and joint training with the Auxiliary makes us ready to respond during cases.”

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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