Bodega Bay firefighters rescue kayakers

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Two sets of kayakers got into trouble in Bodega Bay this weekend, including a woman who fell into the water and was rescued by firefighters who swam out with a board to get her.

The first rescue occurred Saturday night, when though it was windy, a man and woman went out on kayaks without wearing a life vests.

Apparently, “a gal and her boyfriend wanted to take a romantic moonlight cruise in their kayaks,” Bodega Bay fire Capt. Justin Fox said Sunday. “She fell out of the kayak into the harbor and was unable to get in and her boyfriend couldn’t get her in.”

The two yelled for help and after about an hour or so someone heard and called 911 at 9:07 p.m.

Firefighters from Bodega Bay and Bodega responded. Two Bodega Bay firefighters trained as rescue swimmers went after the woman who was clinging to the boat’s side, drifting a couple hundred yards from shore. The man, still in his kayak, stayed with her, Fox said.

The firefighters got her onto the board and paddled her back to shore and a waiting Bodega Bay ambulance. She’d been in the ocean more than an hour, was exhausted and beginning to suffer from hypothermia, Fox said. She was taken to Sonoma West Medical Center in Sebastopol.

The second rescue occurred early Sunday afternoon when two men in kayaks struggled with gusting winds and needed help after becoming stuck south of Doran Park.

“They were beat up by the wind and blown into rocks at Pinnacle Gulch,” Fox said. “They weren’t injured, just exhausted. They couldn’t paddle against the wind.”

Fox estimated sustained winds Sunday afternoon at 20 knots with gusts to 30 knots. Someone onshore watching the kayakers fight the wind called for help at 1:24 p.m. The U.S. Coast Guard sent a boat and guided firefighters to their location and the two were told where to find a nearby trail to drag their kayaks out, he said.

The names of the four or their home towns weren’t available Sunday.

Fox said kayakers often make the mistake of not heeding weather forecasts, and out‑of‑towners often don’t know the area and wind patterns, heading out early when winds are calm then getting blown south as afternoon winds increase.

“They need to pay attention to marine and (National Weather Service) forecasts,” Fox said. “Anything over 10 knots causes kayakers to struggle.”

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 707‑521-5412 or randi.rossmann@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter@rossmannreport.

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