High winds ground boats, cancel ferry

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

The sailboat Slacker Jack was found grounded near Oak Harbor a day after a Coast Guard crew rescued five people from its pitching deck Saturday, said Petty Officer Third Class Jordan Akiyama, a Coast Guard spokesman.

“The owner is working with contractors to salvage the vessel,” Akiyama said.

The rescue that happened on the 34-foot sailboat was among several weather-related problems caused by a winter storm that moved through the region Saturday.

John Sunstrom of Spokane and four passengers were rescued from the distressed sailboat at about 6:10 a.m. Saturday in the waters off Port Ludlow, Akiyama said.

The Coast Guard cutter Terrapin took on three adults and two children from the boat as it was being overwhelmed by 42 mph wind gusts and three-to-five foot waves.

According to the Coast Guard, an early morning distress call was made by Sunstrom, who reported his boat was taking on water about two miles off of Port Ludlow and in need of assistance.

The Terrapin, an 87-foot patrol vessel stationed in Bellingham, was dispatched to the reported location, where it found the Slacker Jack taking on water over the side, Akiyama said.

Crew aboard the Terrapin and Sunstrom agreed that towing the vessel was unsafe.

Three adults and two children from the Slacker Jack were transferred to the Terrapin and taken to Port Ludlow, Akiyama said.

Sunstrom’s passengers were not identified.

All five people from the Slacker Jack were evaluated by Jefferson County emergency medical technicians and released.

Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound recorded the position of the Slacker Jack and issued a broadcast notice of the navigational hazard to other boaters and ships.

“We always advise mariners to check weather and sea conditions before going out. Even experienced mariners can be taken by surprise if the weather picks up out of nowhere,” Akiyama said.

A National Weather Service small craft advisory for the Puget Sound and Hood Canal area had expired Friday evening, and a gale warning was in place for the waterway beginning at noon Saturday.

High winds also canceled ferry runs between Port Townsend and Coupeville on Saturday.

Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. sailing from Port Townsend and the 9:15 p.m. sailing from Coupeville were canceled because of weather conditions.

The weekend weather also proved problematic for inland locations.

Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area closed early today, bringing an abrupt end to its opening weekend.

Hurricane Ridge opened for the first time this season Saturday because of a previous lack of snow, but closed at noon today because of heavy snowfall as a system moved over the area.

Park headquarters reported 13 new inches of snow Sunday, for a total of 60 inches on the ridge.

Up to an additional foot of snow was expected this afternoon on Hurricane Ridge, with 20 additional inches forecast for overnight into Monday.


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