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Signal parachute that lit night sky in rescue “a thing of beauty”

USCG image Snafu

A signal parachute flare used to light up the night sky in a California race rescue has been described as “a thing of beauty”.

Occupants of two boats in the Coastal Cup, from Monterey to Santa Barbara, part of the California Offshore Race Week in May and June, had to be rescued after running into trouble, reports Eric Simonson, of Pressure-Drop.US.

At about 35 nautical miles from Morro Bay, the Gunboat 62 Chim Chim broke a rudder and the Moore 24 Snafu lost its mast. Chim Chim had another rudder for steerage, but Snafu required a helicopter to be dispatched to airlift the crew off the damaged boat.

High winds and sea swells rebounding off the cliff walls of Big Sur, created confusion. The boat was slammed by a huge wave and the mast folded over. “It was surreal,” says Gilles Combrisson, one of two on board.

US Coast Guard Station Morro Bay and three boats in the vicinity, Ray Paul’s Swan 53 Blue, which was some 15 miles further south, James Goldberg’s J/109 Junkyard Dog, and Rodney Pimentel’s Cal 40 Azure responded to a call for help.

On board Azure, Encinal Yacht Club Commodore Jim Vickers sprung into action. “We were six miles N-NE of them and locked onto their DSC signal. We dropped the jib and went to just the main and changed course. Seas were really crappy and with no lights on their boat we could not spot them.”

Communicating with Station Morro Bay, they got a message to Snafu to fire a signal parachute flare. “It was a thing of beauty,” says Mr Vickers. “It really lit up the sky and for a brief while we could see them plain as day.”

The two on board were subsequently rescued and taken to San Louis Obispo Medical Center for treatment. Snafu was later towed back to safety.

The main image is from the USCG website and is of Snafu.
Jun 08, 2017