The words “heroic” and “brave” have been tossed around a lot the past few years, and they’re often used for political reasons. But there’s no questioning that the folks at the Coast Guard fit the description — as was demonstrated during a daring rescue in Morro Bay this past weekend.
A crew of big wave riders had been tow surfing earlier in the day. But a boat carrying three people — surfer Chris Ward, his girlfriend and a photographer friend — got in trouble as they tried to re-enter the Morro Bay harbor mouth.
“This was some of the most trecherous waters I have ever been in,” wrote Mike Jones, one of the surfers who witnessed the incident, on his Azhiaziam web site.
A Coast Guard crew came and snatched the trio up, tugging the boat behind them. But that’s where the excitement (they probably have another word for it) really began.
As is shown by these photos sent to us by Geri Lanier of Grover Beach, the Coast Guard boat found itself in the middle of a huge set. As the boat began to drop into the 20- to 25-foot wave, it began to nose dive. And then it actually flipped, sending the three newly rescued passengers into the hazardous waters.
The harbormouth has, of course, proven catastrophic to other boats, including a boat carrying school kids in the 80s. (Two people — both adults — died as a result of that accident.) But luckily the three skiff boat riders were plucked out of the water safely, and the Coast Guard returned them to shore.
Here’s the way Jones described it:
What seemed to be a good idea turned into near tragedy on Feb. 13th 2010, when Chris Ward and Dave Langer decided to take a 13 ft Sea Pro boat out the Morro Bay Harbor in 20 ft + surf.
The Harbor, at high tide on a glassy day, is doable. This is what it was like when Wardo’s boat left the harbor, non life threatening. Captain Wardo had a great day of surf at a local break and everyone was stoked. As the day progressed the tide dropped out, the wind came up to gale force levels and a looming fog bank was heading right for the boat load of surfers.
Everyone decided it was time to leave and get back to the Harbor. As the jet ski crew entered the harbor to make sure everyone made it in ok, we quickly realized some people were missing. We sat with the Coast Guard and Harbor Patrol, watching 25 ft sets close out the entire entrance. Not good. Troy Leage, Christian Enns and I (Mike Jones) decided to head back out to sea to look for the missing boat. This was some of the most treacherous waters I have ever been in, huge chop from the wind and massive waves capping way out to sea… Chris headed out to sea, where we could see Don Curry and Ed Guzman motoring around. I stayed a few hundred yards off the Jetties at the entrance for about 15 min, and realized I was almost out of gas…it was really sketchy, I had lost sight of everyone and I did not want to be another statistic so I headed back to the harbor entrance and went in.
Once I got back to the docks, I started getting calls about what went down right after, I came in…
Now, of course, some will judge whether it was a good idea to even go out that day. But remember that ocean conditions can change drastically in a hurry. And normally these big wave guys are able to handle some pretty crazy conditions.
But it’s good to know the Coast Guard is out there. And that the Coast Guard folks are brave enough to risk their lives to rescue others.
And now check out the photos from that surf session, which occured just a little to the north. These were taken by Jones, whom we wrote about a couple of weeks ago.
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