Man rescued after 30 minutes in Sound with no life jacket

A 24-year-old Vancouver, WA, man who was not wearing a life jacket was rescued after 30 minutes in frigid Puget Sound waters Monday night.

The man and his brother were sailing from Blaine to Edmonds and were trying to stop in Kingston when the man fell overboard. The man’s brother was unable to rescue him due to windy conditions.

“Officials are calling the man lucky, noting that it’s remarkable to make a successful rescue under these conditions. The chilly waters can hamper the abilities of even the strongest swimmers in as little as 15 minutes and, absent a life jacket, it can be difficult to remain afloat and visible. Puget Sound’s vast area, the approach of nightfall, and rough waters further decreased the chances for a good outcome,” said Michele Laboda,spokeswoman for North Kitsap Fire and Rescue.

A NKF&R news release says it was called at 3:45 p.m. Dec. 7 to Apple Tree Point, about a mile north of the Kingston Ferry Terminal, according to U.S. Coast Guard radio traffic.

Peter Horsman was on his way home in his vessel called Moondance when he heard the distress call. As darkness fell, he just about gave up when he found the man, pulled him aboard and began getting him warmed up.

Soon after a small boat that came from the diverted Kingston-Edmonds ferry pulled up and offered to transfer the man to the ferry where there was medical equipment on board. The Walla Walla ferry had diverted from its route to assist in the rescue.

Once the ferry arrived in Kingston, paramedics with NKF&R treated the man, who ultimately declined transportation to area hospitals in favor of meeting his brother in Edmonds where the sailboat was being towed. Firefighters were able to provide the man with dry clothes, food and a warm place to stay while he waited for the ferry.

“As the incident illustrates, it takes a team effort to make a difference — especially when circumstances make the odds long.”