Recent Coast Guard rescues highlight start of aquatic season 

The U.S. Coast Guard conducted seven aquatic rescues in the Bay Area on Friday and Saturday, all of them to retrieve stranded kiteboarders.

As the San Francisco Bay boating season officially opened on Sunday with the 95th-annual "Opening Day on the Bay," a Coast Guard spokeswoman noted that the arrival of warmer weather brings more boaters and surfers to Bay Area waters, but also more aquatic rescues.

While the Coast Guard averages about 30 Northern California rescues per week on an annual basis, it can equal that number on one busy summer or holiday weekend, spokeswoman Lt. j.g. Laura -Williams said.

Last year, the agency participated in 1,557 area search and rescue cases involving swimmers, kiteboarders and windsurfers, and recreational and commercial fishing vessels, Williams said. "This is about the time when we start seeing the increases," she said.

Kiteboarders and windsurfers, especially inexperienced ones, sometimes find themselves too exhausted to get back to shore after a day on the waves. "They sometimes just don’t know their limits," Williams said.

For anyone headed out onto the water, Williams offered some safety tips.

"Even before they go out, we recommend that everyone tell someone where they’re going," she said. She also advised wearing a life jacket, and bringing along a handheld marine-band radio to send a
message if they get in trouble.

Two recent deaths in the area have highlighted the need for safety.

On Wednesday, a 44-year-old surfing instructor was found unconscious in the surf off Ocean Beach and died after being pulled to shore.

On April 9, a 53-year-old Marin County man went missing when his tugboat took on water and sank in heavy seas, also off Ocean Beach. His body was found a week later along the Fort Funston shoreline.

aburack@sfexaminer.com

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