The first sign that Kelly Brennan, 54, of Seldovia was in trouble came about 4:30 p.m. Monday when the motor on his 12-foot skiff quit operating. Brennan was near Dangerous Cape at the time, between Seldovia and Port Graham, according to a report from the Alaska State Troopers.
Fortunately for Brennan, the rest of his day improved.
Using a cell phone, Brenna was able to make contact with a woman in Seldovia, telling her he had beached his skiff, become wet in the process and wasn’t dressed for being outside overnight.
“The woman contacted AST and the U.S. Coast Guard after she had not heard from Brennan since approximately 1900 hours (7 p.m.),” the troopers reported.
The watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Anchorage issued an urgent marine information broadcast. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter with a crew of four was dispatched from Air Station Kodiak to the area, locating Brennan at 11:45 p.m.
At that time Brennan was just off the beach, in the tree line east of Point Pogibshi.
The boater was transported to emergency medical personnel in Homer at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, and then taken to South Peninsula Hospital where troopers said he was expected to fully recover from mild hypothermia and low-grade frostbite to his feet.
“The man had reportedly departed Seldovia earlier in the day to go fishing,” said Petty Officer First Class Sara Francis with the Coast Guard District 17 Public Affairs Detachment in Kodiak.
Weather at the time of the rescue was reported to be 28 miles per hour winds with six- to eight-foot seas and air temperatures of about 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
“We don’t know what the weather was like earlier in the day, but we always encourage boaters to check the weather,” said Francis, noting how quickly conditions can change.
Also important is having proper communication equipment in case of an emergency.
“Ensuring you have a way to contact authorities or family when you set out on a voyage is critical and can mean the difference between life and death if you run into trouble,” said Jimmy Belcher, a search and rescue controller with Sector Anchorage. “In this case the boater was able to use a cell phone to call a friend and then us, but cell phones don’t work everywhere in Alaska so we also recommend taking a VHF marine radio with you and filing a float plan to let people know where you are going and when you plan to return.”
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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