Boat capsizes near Bodega Bay

08/04/2011

Three Sonoma County boaters nearly drowned last week after their 17-foot vessel capsized just north of Bodega Bay. The boat’s captain had forgotten to fill the boat with VRO oil, which caused the two-stroke engine to shut down. Before the boat capsized, the disoriented captain sent an emergency message to the Coast Guard, mistakenly identifying their location as being off of Point Reyes. The men, who were wearing life jackets, managed to swim ashore. Bodega Bay Coast Guard Senior Chief Aaron Bretz said that a small mistake, like forgetting to top off a boat’s oil, can become a serious disaster. “It’s no harder a mistake to make than running out of fuel. You usually check that before you call and top that off, but I guess [the captain] forgot to do it.” In addition, Marin County waters can be deceptively hazardous. “The water temperature here is a lot colder than people generally think,” Bretz said. “Even if you go to the beach and wade around, it may feel a little cool, but when you’re completely submerged in the water you only have about 10 minutes before serious hypothermic symptoms manifest.”