The Coast Guard at Bodega Bay was busy Saturday as the recreational crab season got underway and more than 200 boats and kayaks took to the water.

"There's a lot of boats, a lot of boats," said Petty Officer Ross Ellis, boatswain mate second class.

The first rescue call came in around 9:15 a.m., when a 21-foot Bayliner with six Santa Rosa residents on board had a problem.

"They were all wearing their life jackets and doing everything right, they just had an engine casualty," Ellis said.

About two hours later, as Ellis and a team were towing the Bayliner to safety, a call came in from another boater in distress. That request came from a crew on a 22-foot Parker that held three Sonoma County residents, Ellis said.

Ellis and his crew handed over the first distressed boat to an auxiliary boat that was helping out, and then headed toward the second vessel that was stranded near some rocks.

"There was a good Samaritan there that was attempting to tow them and keep them away from the rocks, and keep the situation stable until we go there," Ellisa said.

Occupants of both boats were fine after the rescue.

Ellis cautioned that seafarers should thoroughly check their boats and safety equipment before taking to the waters.

"What we tend to see a lot is when you get openers for recreational crab and salmon seasons, oftentimes people haven't had their boats on the water for some time," Ellis said. "That's when they find out that they have problems."

It's also important to check the weather forecast for the entire day, he said.

"Sometimes the mornings will be beautiful and calm out here, and the afternoon wind will kick up and it will cause the seas to get rough in a hurry," Ellis said.

(You can reach Staff Writer Cathy Bussewitz at 521-5276 or On Twitter @cbussewitz.)