The Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. had to forcibly rescue an adult male boater yesterday – who swam out to sea, away from his rescuers – after his small sailboat capsized and washed onto the west end of Goleta Beach.
The boater was disoriented and suffering from hypothermia when he was finally rescued by the county fire rescue watercraft at 5:13 p.m., said Eli Iskow, a spokesman for the fire department.
The sailboat was first spotted on the beach in front of parking lot 6 – located across the street from Santa Cruz Hall – by university workers, who then contacted UCSB Police Dept. and the fire department, Iskow said.
When the boat originally washed onto the beach, the boater remained onshore, waiting for ambulances to bring medical attention.
However, by the time 10 firefighters and the water rescue team arrived, Iskow said the boater had abandoned his boat, escaped from the beach, and swam approximately a quarter-mile offshore.
Iskow said the swimmer was confused and physically distressed when the water rescue team reached him.
“He was on his way down,” Iskow said. “This was a legitimate water rescue. He would have drowned.”
Rescue workers dragged the drowning man onto a boat and rushed him to shore, where a waiting ambulance transported him to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital for treatment.