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Baja Ha-Ha Search and Rescue Presentation by US Coast Guard

Want to know what to do if you have an emergency at sea, such as a fire, heart attack, or being holed by a whale, and need help? And exactly how does getting help from the Coast Guard work?

The Poobah has announced that the Ha-Ha has arranged for Douglas Samp, USCG Search and Rescue Specialist, to give a presentation at the West Marine Superstore in San Diego late in the afternoon on October 29.

Douglass Samp USCG
Douglas Samp and the US Coast Guard are there to help if needed. Learn more to help them help you.
© 2022 USCG

(Samp will also be at the Latitude 38 Crew List Party on September 1 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Spaulding Marine Center in Sausalito. Tickets are available online, though the event is free for skippers and first mates signed up for this year’s Baja Ha-Ha.)

Here’s a fun fact about Specialist Samp. “I was the Command Duty Officer at RCC in Alameda when a whale struck and sank the J/Boat participant in the Ha-Ha in 2009. I remember that case like it was yesterday.”

As many of you might remember, thanks to the efforts of everyone, from skipper Eugenie Russell and the boat crew, and everyone at the Coast Guard, the result was a “textbook rescue.” This even though the incident happened at the extreme limit of helicopter range.

As Eugenie Russell will again be a skipper in this year’s Ha-Ha, we think there is a good chance she’ll be at the presentation on October 29 to share the experience through her eyes.

J/120 Baja Ha-Ha Rescue
The crew of the J/120 J World in the 2009 Baja Ha-Ha was happy to be back ashore.
© 2022 PO 3C Henry G Dunphy USCG

Just how far will the Coast Guard and other services go to rescue mariners in distress? A number of years ago a Ha-Ha boat continued west across the Pacific toward the Marquesas. One of the crew slipped on the companionway ladder and bit his tongue so badly that it became swollen and made it very difficult for him to breathe.

The Coast Guard was contacted; they in turn contacted the Air Force special rescue team. The team boarded a plane in Sacramento, flew halfway across the Pacific, and then — and this is hard to believe — the team jumped out of the plane with an inflatable boat and rescue gear! If memory serves me, it might have even been in the middle of the night, too.

Can we spell cojones?

And they took care of business.

More recently, highly-experienced sailor Andy Schwenk came down with a severe infection during a delivery from Hawaii to California. The Coast Guard employed the services of two Blackhawk helos, two refuelers, and two C-130s — and a ship — to save the day. You can read more about this dramatic rescue in Friday’s ‘Lectronic Latitude.

Given what the Coast Guard is willing to do for you, it makes sense to learn about how to help them do their job in the, thankfully, unlikely event you’ll need them.

We hope to see you at the presentation. It’s free. And the Ha-Ha is inviting everyone, not just members of this year’s Ha-Ha.

Also, for the first time, the Baja Ha-Ha will be offering fleet tracking with Predict Wind. If you’re already signed up for the Baja Ha-Ha or are getting ready, make sure you add the fleet tracking so others can follow your cruise. We hope to see cruisers from the Pacific Northwest enjoying the Delta in the next month or so, and in Sausalito for the Crew List Party.

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