A Sunday morning fishing trip turned into a rescue operation when two boaters found themselves adrift and in danger of crashing into jagged rocks at Rodeo Beach, a Marin County fire official said.
With the help of an off-duty firefighter, the man and woman on board abandoned their 20-foot boat and jumped into the water to wait for a rescue.
The U.S. Coast Guard received a report of a disabled vessel at 8:45 a.m.
The occupants, who initially went out to retrieve crab pots, struggled to drop anchor because the boat kept drifting, Coast Guard Chief Scott Brazier said.
The boaters put in a distress call to the Coast Guard and began waving their arms after they realized they were headed for the rocks, Brazier said.
Luckily for them, Marin County fire engineer Rick Racich was surfing nearby and was able to convince the occupants to get out of the boat, according to Marin County fire Battalion Chief Mike Giannini.
“Rick really did a good job of persuading them to get off the boat,” Giannini said.
Had Racich not intervened, the two could have struggled for their lives and the incident could have had a different outcome, Giannini said.
Wearing lifejackets, the occupants headed into the cold water, where they clung to Racich’s surfboard.
Racich paddled them to a safe distance to wait for the Coast Guard.
The Coast Guard deployed a 47-foot motor lifeboat and a helicopter to perform the rescue.
The man and woman were pulled out of the water at 9:18 p.m., Brazier said.
The boaters were taken to the Coast Guard Station Golden Gate where they were evaluated by paramedics and recovered from the ordeal.
“They were treated for mild hypothermia,” Brazier said.
Though it rained on and off throughout the day, Brazier couldn’t say for sure if the wind and rain were factors.
“The weather definitely didn’t help,” Brazier said.
As of 4:30 p.m., the boat remained in the water at Rodeo Beach, near where the water breaks against the cliffs and the jagged rocks.
“It was in a spot where it was too dangerous to get it,” Brazier said.