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Last Minute Schedule Change Leads to Nighttime Naked Rescue

What started out as an ordinary delivery from Point Richmond to Marina del Rey became a rescue story when Patti Day and three friends altered their departure time to get some extra rest before heading out to sea.

“That decision was the critical decision of what would become the defining moment of this trip. And one that, unbeknownst to us, would change all of our lives — and, we all hope, the life of a still-unknown stranger.”

Naked Rescue crew
The crew of Jazzy, left to right Austin Helm, Patti Day, Susan Obermiller and Ben Cage.
© 2021 Austin Helm

“Not too far past the bridge is the start of the shipping lanes for the larger ships to enter/exit the Bay. Thankfully, at that time of the morning, there wasn’t much traffic either way. As we continued to motor out, both Austin and I paused, looked at each other, and said, ‘Did you hear that?’ We both thought we had heard, over the motor noise, a very faint but distinct cry of ‘help’ coming from the water. ‘Is that possible?’ we thought. It was probably just the foghorn playing tricks on us.

“At this point, neither Ben nor Susan had heard anything, so we all paused for a moment and then, we all heard it again. ‘Help!’ Susan immediately yelled, ‘Throttle down!’ Ben throttled down, and Austin and I grabbed our flashlights and headed for the bow, with Susan standing by in the cockpit ready to throw whatever she had to if we came across anyone. ‘Hello! Anyone out there? Hello! Keep yelling!’ Austin and I screamed. Sure enough, louder now, we heard, ‘Hello! Help! Help!’ OMG, there was someone out there, in the water past the Golden Gate Bridge, riding the current out, toward the shipping lanes! We told him to keep yelling, scanning the water with our flashlights. ‘There he is!’ No, that’s a pelican … ‘There he is!’ Yes, there was a man, treading water, both our flashlights trained on him. And … he was naked. At 3 a.m. In the very cold water.”

Read the full story in this month’s Latitude 38 online, or pick up a copy from your favorite distributor.

You can read about another recent naked rescue in the November issue: Ocean Rescue Off Southern California.

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