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Four of us were kayaking in Glacier Bay National Park, making our way to Reid Inlet from Scidmore. As we were paddling a storm blew in. The waves got rougher, reaching three feet, and the wind picked up. We were just south of the inlet when our friends’ double kayak was broadsided by a large wave, tipping them over into the frigid waters. One of our friends was able to make it back into the kayak but we got separated from him. I activated my personal locator beacon when I realized we couldn’t get our other friend back into the kayak.
We towed our friend behind our kayak to the rocky shore and tried to warm him up as quickly as we could. He had been in the cold water for an estimated 20-25 minutes. We set up a temporary shelter to keep our nearly-hypothermic friend warm and protect him and our gear from getting further wet in the rain. I placed the beacon on a large rock, protected from the wind and with clear view to the sky. We had just begun to set up a more permanent camp, and move our bear canisters away to avoid a close encounter with grizzlies, when my paddling partner started yelling and pointing to the other side of the rocks. I climbed up and around the corner was a huge U.S. Coast Guard cutter. I grabbed my paddle, which I had wrapped in yellow material for increased visibility, and waved it as high as I could. I was overwhelmed with relief when I saw a small boat being lowered from the cutter and heard cheers from my fellow paddlers.
The small boat approached us but wasn’t able to reach us due to the rocks. One of the rescuers had to get into the water and swim to us on the shore. He towed each of us back to the boat with him through the icy waters. Once we got to the boat we found out that our fourth paddler had made it safely to shore about 300 yards away. The boat picked him up as well and brought us back to the cutter. Safely aboard the ship, the USCGC Douglas Monro, we were shaken but unharmed. We spent the night with the kind and welcoming crew on the ship and were dropped off in Juneau the next day. According to members of the Coast Guard, without the emergency beacon they may not have been able to find us. We are incredibly grateful to have had the beacon with us and to the Coast Guard for their quick actions.
News articles covering our rescue:
Thank you ACR team!
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