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Rescue off Alcatraz

Yesterday, the Santa Cruz 50 Bay Wolf — a charter boat operated by Captain Kirk San Francisco Sailing — was returning to Sausalito from San Francisco after dropping off their guests at Pier 40, when they heard a call on Channel 16. They were about a half mile to the north of Alcatraz when a commercial vessel, the Blue & Gold ferry Oski, described an overturned dinghy on the windward, southwest side of the island.

Captain Dogen Hannah, along with crew Natasha Pyle and Joe Ording, changed course to investigate. Earlier, they’d seen a few small boats sailing downwind on the weather side of Alcatraz as they motored toward Sausalito.  

Bay Wolf during a calmer moment of sailing.

©2017Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Through binoculars, Ording spotted a small boat hard on shore, and saw someone clinging to a mark half in the water. Ording also saw another person climbing up the shore on the steep windward face of the island. Captain Hannah and crew maneuvered to weather and upcurrent of the sailor clinging to the buoy and, with the aid of a Lifesling, were able to pull him aboard. 

They found Holt Condon, who’d been out sailing with crew Harrison Turner aboard their 5o5 when they dismasted while dousing the spinnaker. They got separated from the boat — Holt made it to the buoy while Harrison made it to shore on Alcatraz. Harrison was later airlifted to safety by a Coast Guard helicopter.

You can just spot the 5o5 against the shore of Alcatraz.

© 2017 Joe Ording

Fortunately, both sailors were wearing wetsuits and PFDs, and both were in good shape, without any signs of hypothermia.

Captain Hannah expressed his thanks to the ferry Oski for making the initial call when they saw something suspicious. He also noted that at least one other recreational sailboat and up to six commercial vessels came to assist. It’s a reminder for everyone to monitor Channel 16 to listen for potential calls for help. 

It was a typical sunny, breezy, flood-tide day and we’re sure an awesome spinnaker run down the windward shore of Alcatraz — until it wasn’t. We’re glad to hear that there were alert boats on the Bay, proper attire on sailors, a skilled crew on the Bay Wolf and plenty of mariners ready to respond. 

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As we look forward to Labor Day Weekend, we see that the Folkboat International Regatta continues at Corinthian YC through Friday; the 75th Windjammers Race from San Francisco to Santa Cruz will start on Friday.
Editor’s Note: A picture has been removed from this posting because it was brought to our attention that it was either a fake, or from a different storm entirely.