Sonoma County boater dies after capsizing near Salt Point

One person died in a boat accident off Ocean Cove south of Salt Point after a skiff overturned Saturday afternoon. Two others were saved by passing boaters, according to the Coast Guard based in Bodega Bay.

Three people, apparently campers, took the 10-foot boat into the ocean from the Ocean Cove Campground boat launch area. Those in the boat, including a child, who went into the water after it capsized were rescued by passersby before the responding Sonoma County Sheriff’s helicopter, Henry 1, Timber Cove Fire Department or Coast Guard could reach them, said Coast Guard Petty Officer John Schaefer.

Apparently one of the two adults drowned, and the other adult and child survived and did not need to go to a hospital. The body was taken by Henry 1, likely to the Timber Cove Fire Department, Schaefer said. The fire department was able to refloat the boat, he said.

“The wind was blowing from the southwest today at 10 to 15 knots,” Schaefer said. “There was a 3- to 4-foot wind wave, which is definitely enough to capsize a 10-foot aluminum skiff. It’s not a boat that is built for the ocean.”

“It could have been an inexperienced mariner,” he said.

A call had gone out to the Sheriff’s Office about 2:30 p.m., according to a Redcom dispatcher.

By the time the Coast Guard got the call, launched its Motor Lifeboat and arrived 45 minutes later, the two people were already on land, Schaefer said. The crew checked for ocean pollution in the area and found none.

State park rangers also responded and a rescue helicopter had also launched, Schaefer said.

You can reach Staff Writer Kathleen Coates at

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