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Three rescued after wave capsizes boat off Sonoma Coast (w/video)

Three men clinging to an overturned boat in the ocean off Gualala Point on Wednesday were plucked from the water by the Sonoma County sheriff’s helicopter team.

The men had been fishing from a rubber inflatable boat when a rogue wave came over the bow and capsized it, tossing the men into the water, Sgt. Pete Quartarolo said. The men climbed onto the overturned boat and began trying to paddle with oars.

A call came in at about 1:45 p.m. from a bystander at a hotel onshore in Gualala who reported seeing the men paddling and waving their arms, said Petty Officer Bobby Myers with Coast Guard Station Noyo River.

The Coast Guard sent a lifeboat from Noyo River, about two hours away, and a helicopter from Humboldt Bay. Park personnel, Coast Life Support and the sheriff’s helicopter also were called to the area.

The crew with the sheriff’s Henry 1 helicopter found the men at about 2:05 p.m. on top of the 12-foot long rubber boat about 300 yards offshore, just south of the Gualala River mouth, Quartarolo said. They were in 5- to 8-foot swells and only one of the men was wearing a life jacket, he said.

Pilot Paul Bradley flew paramedic Nick Fitzpatrick at the end of a 100-foot line to the men. Fitzpatrick secured the men, one-by-one, in a horse collar rescue device and they were flown to shore.

The men, ages 34 to 66, were uninjured, Quartarolo said.

You can reach Staff Writer Julie Johnson at 521-5220 or julie.johnson@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.

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