UPDATE: US Coast Guard says response off Beach Drive was ‘false alarm’

(Photo courtesy Doug B)

We are at Emma Schmitz Memorial Overlook, after numerous reports of a US Coast Guard vessel and helicopter off Beach Drive. Big wind and waves, but the USCG was gone when we arrived, and there has been no SFD rescue dispatch of any kind.

(Texted photo)

We reached the USCG after-hours media number and they tell us they got a report of a paddleboarder in distress and sent crews to check it out but it “was a false alarm.”

(Photo courtesy Doug B)

ADDED 1:16 PM: Multiple readers tell us they tracked the paddleboarder in question and that he made it safely around the point to Alki (photo above), where the water is decidedly calmer.

11 Replies to "UPDATE: US Coast Guard says response off Beach Drive was 'false alarm'"

  • keithB January 27, 2018 (1:21 pm)

    There was a boarder off the 3800 block, he had a wet suit on. CG approached him then left, he paddled on.

  • Craig January 27, 2018 (1:24 pm)

    I watched the CG helicopter come on scene over the paddle boarder. The paddle boarder (green board) was in a wet or dry suit with hood laying in the prone position on his/her board using arms to propel toward the south beginning of Me Kwa Mooks park at Beach Dr at Jacobson. He was moving very rapidly with the current . The CG rescue boat came along side the paddle boarder and made contact. I did not see the paddle boarder climb into the CG boat. The CG boat made a U turn and departed within minutes of contact. The helo held station and moved away from shore drifting toward Manchester  for 5 minutes and then departed.

    Those CG guys were on scene fast and located the target from the helo fast! I can’t believe that someone would be on the water, especially on the windy side (Alki has flatter water this morning than Lincoln Park side of the peninsula). Even then I’d suggest high vis wet/dry suit, but it’s not my life. Even the CG boat was working hard to cut the waves and wind. I can’t imagine what a paddle boarder was doing. I’m glad someone called the CG to check on him/her. You can’t play the odds with the water (or mountains) around here. 

  • just wondering January 27, 2018 (2:03 pm)

    The trees are whipping in this wind and someone goes paddle boarding?

    • WSB January 27, 2018 (2:28 pm)

      I would imagine it’s the same reason some surfers go out when the waves at Waimea are 30 feet. What interests me about this one, and I won’t be able to get the answer today, is the difference in responses – we’ve reported numerous times on full SFD water-rescue responses for what turned out to be a log, while in this case, with somebody actually out on the water (though as noted by commenters and a couple e-mailers, apparently declining help), the Coast Guard was called out but not SFD.

  • BD January 27, 2018 (4:11 pm)

    We saw the paddle boarder out on the water.  He/She was well equipped.  It is great to see people adventuring about.  This is a perfectly save thing for an experienced person to do.

  • Retired Don January 27, 2018 (8:35 pm)

    The aircrew all the way from Pt Angeles flew by the boat crew before they got past Anchor Park.  Glad it was not a rescue. But I to wonder why Seattle Fire was not dispatched unless the chopper and the rescue boat were quicker.

  • Renee near Constilation Point January 28, 2018 (7:45 am)

    We watched the whole thing go down from our deck. The life flight helicopter kept circling the waters trying to locate someone. The coast guard came rushing onto the scene. And then you can see them pull along side the boarder who was laying flat and paddling through the choppy water. He must have advised he didn’t need assistance. Then everyone was called off. Thanks to the coast guard and helicopter team for their quick response. It was amazing and scary to watch. But glad everyone was ok in the end. 

    • WSB January 28, 2018 (10:05 am)

      Thank you! And thanks again to everyone who messaged us (206-293-6302 is our 24/7 hotline, text or voice) – while we monitor a variety of sources to get the jump on most breaking news, this wasn’t on any of them (federal air/sea craft generally not on flight or vessel trackers, or scanners, and since there was no SFD dispatch this time, nothing on scanners or Real-Time 911), so the tips were essential. As it happened, we were headed that way anyway to see if the strong wind and high tide were producing big waves (they were) – and still just missed it. And thanks to the USCG Petty Officer who returned our call to the after-hours line before we could even finish leaving a voicemail message! Given what happened just south of here a week earlier, it was good to have actual info sooner rather than later. – TR

  • Michael Schutzler January 28, 2018 (10:36 am)

    Hi. I’m the green pronepaddle person in question here. That’s a Bark Board designed for those conditions for prone or kneeling position. Have a lot of rough sea experience. It was a joy in the water that day! Turns out the CG was looking for a yellow paddleboard. Since mine is lime-green, they were making sure. Turns out I had seen the yellow paddle board take off about an hour sooner than I did — and was long gone toward the north. They headed that way and I hope they found him!

    • Craig January 28, 2018 (1:22 pm)

      Michael you’re an animal! I mean that in a good way. I’m impressed that you’re out in the water in those conditions, but sounds like you knew what you were doing. It’s a win-win that us WS and CG folks were keeping an eye on you, and you were having a good time in our intense water that day. Heck of a workout and personal challenge!

  • JTS73 January 28, 2018 (10:27 pm)

    I can’t be 100% certain but the yellow paddle boarder could theoretically have been my buddy on the water. We paddled from Brace Point to the lighthouse at approximately 8-9 AM.  We had so much fun and the conditions were so great that we were back on the water between 4 & 5 PM (this time heading from Alki lighthouse to  the Duwamish head as the wind had shifted from southerly to westerly).  At no point were we in the slightest bit of distress. In fact, we were having a ball.  Downwinding is an addictive experience, consisting of gliding across the water and surfing from wind swell to wind swell.  Days like yesterday are akin to powder days in the mountains for skiers.

    I’ll emphasize that a group of us have been doing downwind stand up paddle board runs from Burien (3 tree point) to Alki, and in Lake Washington, for many years now. We have been out on dozens of occasions, including days with stronger winds than yesterday.  We  have adequate safety equipment including downwind specific boards, wet suits, strong leashes, cell phones and PFDs.  We know the  local wind conditions and tides quite well. 

    Yesterday, we didn’t notice any helicopter or coast guard boats.  We occasionally do see the coast guard on the water and typically communicate that we are fine with a wave and a smile. That being said, it is great to know that folks on shore are aware and on the lookout.  Generally speaking, the only reasons for real concern from shore would be if you saw someone waving in distress from their board. A much more alarming sign would be a board floating without a rider.  This should warrant an emergency call for sure.  However, the mere presence of a paddle boarder on the water during stormy conditions is quite normal and does not warrant a rescue call.

    We actually had a discussion yesterday that we would never want to waste the CG’s time, particularly in light of the recent tragedy in Burien (which involved a paddleBOAT at 2 AM without any safety gear: very different story) In the future, we will consider calling the CG in advance to let them know we will be out there.

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