Search off Alki tonight – UPDATE: Surfer OK


Thanks to Cleat for that shot of a Coast Guard boat heading westward against the major chop early this evening, bound for a search that happened in the 6 o’clock hour near Alki Point. We have been trying to get official info on this and haven’t been successful yet; reader reports say there was concern about a possible missing windsurfer. We hope “no news is good news” in this case; hard to believe it wouldn’t be widely, and officially, reported, if someone were still missing right now. 10:05 PM UPDATE: Thanks so much to Guy, who saw the original post here and just sent this note:

The kite surfer is okay. We live near the point and had seen him out there. All of a sudden we saw the kite go by very fast with no rider. I called the Coast Guard and reported it. They called me back later and said the surfer had had a life jacket and wet suit on and had made it back to shore but had lost his kite. He saw the CG helicopter and thought maybe they had spotted his kite. He called 911 and thus there was a happy ending!

9 Replies to "Search off Alki tonight - UPDATE: Surfer OK"

  • Shell Marr March 23, 2008 (11:12 pm)

    Thanks for posting this…. I stayed up late to watch the news to see if we could find out what happened, but did not see anything. We were coming home from an Easter gathering and were nearly ran off of the road by the Seattle Police trying to get to the boat launch with another boat.

    Glad he is OKAY!!

  • wundrgrrrl March 23, 2008 (11:43 pm)

    Driving along Beach drive towards Alki, we had seen the surfer walking with his board along the sea wall side, sans kite. Then on Alki, we saw the kite on the beach and all the fire trucks and kinda put two and two together. We stopped and told a couple of the land based crew and are really glad it turned out okay too… I can only imagine the scare of seeing a kite float to shore with no one attached!

  • Scott March 24, 2008 (12:16 am)

    Glad the firefighters and emergency crew believed our spotting of the kite surfer without kite as a credible source. We drove back to see if we could catch up to the kite surfer but couldn’t find him. Glad he is ok and got his kite back.

    I have to say it was only about 10 minutes from seeing him to seeing the kite and all of the firefighters and police there, and only a few minutes later the Coast Guard boat followed by the helicopter.

    That is some real time response, thumbs up for Seattle’s finest!

  • Don March 24, 2008 (1:13 am)

    As a regular on the water off of Alki (windsurfing and paddle boarding), and as one who has been unnecessarily “rescued” on numerous occasions based on 911 calls by well intended people on the shore, I thought it might be useful to clarify the difference among different sports. In a worse case scenario, it can be tremendously helpful to the coast guard, police or fire department to know exactly what they’re looking for. I witnessed this kiteboarding incident while windsurfing at the same time, and people mistakenly thought I was in trouble, when in fact I was just chasing the kite. This caused quite a bit of confusion for the rescue agencies.

    Windsurfers use a sail attached to a board. The boards are generally fairly large, at least compared to a kiteboard. It’s quite common for windsurfers to fall in the water (at least it is for me). For the most part, as long as the windsurfer is near their board, they’re probably OK. Even if something breaks or the wind dies, a competent sailor knows how to rig the equipment for a paddle back to shore, and the really sharp ones carry a VHF radio or personal locator beacon in case things really go south. The same holds true for paddle boarders. Unless they are frantically waving and obviously trying get attention, a 911 call is probably not warranted.

    Kiteboarders, on the other hand, use a… well, a kite. Pretty hard to miss. Most kiteboards (not all) are roughly the size and shape of a wakeboard, that is, small and not a great buoyancy device, especially in rough water. As long as the kiter is still attached to their kite (in control, not getting dragged down the beach) they’re probably OK, even if their board is some distance away. Kiters can use the kite to drag themselves back to their board or shore, if necessary. It’s when they lose their kites that trouble can start. Again, the smart ones carry a radio or PLB, and the real sharpies are wearing a PFD. In any case, seeing a kiter in the water sans kite may very well be grounds for a 911 call, especially if they’re some distance offshore.

    Hopefully you’ll never have to make the decision whether to call 911 if you see something questionable happening on the water, but if it happens then being able to describe the activity, equipment and approximate location (e.g. a kite boarder with a red kite just south of the Alki lighthouse about 300 yards offshore) is of great benefit. As an aside, I’d like to second Scott’s comment about the response time of our local rescue personnel. These folks really are prepared to put their lives on the line for us, and deserve our thanks whenever we have the opportunity to give it.

    For those of you curious about my paddleboard, feel free to stop by and chat if you see me on the beach. And don’t feel offended if I don’t return your wave while paddling (waving from the water is a sign of distress, and someone else may dial 911. That, and I’m a klutz and I fall off when I wave.)

  • angelescrest March 24, 2008 (7:52 am)

    Both you and the kiter were a jaw-dropping, spectacular sight ysterday with the whitecaps and the colors in the sky. Thanks for the info and for reminding me, once again, how lucky we are to live here. Can’t wait to drag out the kayak when it warms up.

  • angelescrest March 24, 2008 (7:53 am)


  • mel March 24, 2008 (10:02 am)

    Not to sound like my father, but wouldn’t a buddy system be good out there. Seems like relying on somebody on shore to “maybe” see your distress is chancy. Coast Guard or Fire takes a bit of time to get there(even 10 minutes can be too long) and then to find you. The kites are a great show though. Sorry to sound like a wet blanket.

  • Jim March 24, 2008 (6:24 pm)

    Lets have a chili fest for the rescuers. Whos in?

  • James March 25, 2008 (11:24 am)

    Thanks to all the concerned Alki residents.

    I too saw this fellow out there at 4:45pm having a great time on Easter. I was jonesing to join him but had a dinner at had to be at at 5pm. Most kiters who kite alone (which isn’t recommended) wear a pfd and a helmet. I understand he was wearing a pfd and had to swim in after loosing his kite.

    For those of you who would like to learn a little more about what to look for about kiters whether or not they are in distress, I’m sure we ( Puget Sound Kiteboarding Assocaiation) could work out an informational clinic so you all are better informed about what to look for. We appreciate your concern and want to keep our beaches safe and accessible. It will also give you a chance to see the kites, boards and other safety mechanisms up close. If there is interest post again on this forum and I’ll set something up.

    Thanks again for your concern


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