An ill-advised ocean outing turned into a fight for survival Sunday afternoon for 19 people after a boat crashed into the rocky breakwater off Long Beach as a powerful storm lashed the Southland.
“Apparently they’d gone out sailing and met with some gale-force winds,” said Brian Fisk, a firefighter and public information officer for the Long Beach Fire Department.
The 40-foot sailboat found itself in choppy, storm-riled waters when winds snapped its mast, rendering it difficult if not impossible to control. The craft ended up battered and tossed against the Long Beach breakwater near the mouth of Alamitos Bay, with those aboard scrambling up the rocks, temporarily safe but stranded and in danger.
The distress call came in to the Long Beach Fire Department at 2:50 p.m. over Channel 16, which is reserved for emergencies, Fisk said. The department sent two rescue boats and lifeguards.
Before the professional rescuers arrived, eight people already had been extricated — either by people who heard about the situation on a scanner, were alerted by those on board or saw what was happening. Fire Department rescuers brought the remaining 11 to safety.
“The weather not only caused the accident,” Fisk said, “but hampered our rescue effort.”
One person suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
“Those people were really lucky,” Fisk said.