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Sailors Leap for their Lives from Doomed Yacht

by The Log/Sail-World on 26 Dec 2008
Beached yacht in daylight - photo by Imperial Beach Lifeguards and from The Log SW
Two sailors escaped their 44 foot cruising sailing boat by jumping into the surf just as it was pounding ashore this week at Imperial Beach near San Diego, California. The Log reported that the 1979 ketch Aurora was blown up onto the beach at approximately 3.45am.

The Imperial Beach Lifeguard and the Coronado Fire Department watched helplessly from the beach, training their spotlights on the cockpit of the vessel while the drama unfolded.

According to those watching, abandoning the vessel put both men's lives in danger. As crashing surf belted Aurora on the port (seaward) side, the men jumped off the starboard side into the overhead-deep water. For a few tension-filled moments, it looked as though the roiling water might suck the men back underneath the hull and crush them between the rocking boat and sandy bottom.

However, both men, wearing lifejackets, came back up to the surface and managed to swim towards the shore. The men were then helped onto the beach by the lifeguards watching, and treated by the fire brigade emergency medical technicians.

Although efforts were made to salvage the vessel, it was destroyed by the pounding surf. It had just been purchased in La Paz, Mexico by one of the sailors, from Massechusets. He and his friend were bringing the yacht to San Diego, when the engine died during a storm.

He told rescuers when they arrived on the beach that after the engine died they could not make way against the wind wave and current and the yacht was gradually sucked into the surf. The boat's owner, upset by the incident and the loss of his boat, flew back to Massachusetts and could not be reached for more comment.

The boat, a Hardin 44, was long keeled, excellent in an ocean for cruising for its superior tracking and smooth sailing, but would be more difficult to handle in close quarters without an engine and with contrary wind and current.
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