Stranded yacht on Farallon Islands removed by salvage crew 

click to enlarge Farallon Islands
  • Farallon Islands

A helicopter lifted a wrecked sailboat off one of the Farallon Islands on Monday, 10 days after it was tossed around by rogue waves, killing five crew members.

A small helicopter landed on the southeast island of the Farallon chain around 4 p.m. After members of the salvage team rigged the boat, a larger helicopter equipped with a crane lifted the wreckage and brought it to the Half Moon Bay Airport.

Ballard Diving and Salvage of Seattle had received approval Monday to remove the boat — the Low Speed Chase — according to a source close to the operation who asked to remain anonymous. The complete operation is expected to cost $200,000.

The yacht had been attempting to round the rocky bird sanctuary, located 28 miles off the coast of San Francisco, on April 14 when it was struck by a large wave that swept five of its eight crew members overboard. The three remaining sailors were trying to maneuver the boat to rescue them  when the Low Speed Chase was hit by a second wave that washed two more members overboard and broke the leg of the remaining crew member. The boat then quickly washed onto the rocks.

Three crew members — James Bradford of Chicago, Brian Chong of Tiburon and Nick Voss of Tiburon — were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard, which responded to the islands when an emergency response device on the ship activated and a mayday call was made.

Tiburon resident Marc Kasanin’s body was pulled from the water shortly after the rescue. Four others — Alexis Busch of Larskpur, Alan Cahill of Tiburon, Jordan Fromm of Kentfield and Elmer Morrissey of Ireland — were lost at sea.
The Low Speed Chase, along with 48 other boats, was competing in the 100-year-old Full Farallon Race hosted by the San Francisco Yacht Club.

Yacht club officials said the crew was experienced and the boat was well-traveled.

Members of the sailing community held a memorial to honor the lost members Saturday, one week after the tragedy, at the San Francisco Yacht Club in Belvedere.

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

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