Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

California boater rescued after collision with whale

File this under close encounters of the aquatic kind. As reported by the Associated Press, a California man had to be rescued after a whale struck his 50-foot sailboat 40 miles off the shore of Mexico.

Max Young, 67, of Sacramento, was forced to activate an emergency beacon to alert the Coast Guard when the whale collision disabled his boat’s steering system and caused the vessel to take on water. He used a mattress to plug a hole caused by the crash and four bilge pumps to bail water while waiting to be rescued.

"He was steering the boat and trying to get it back on course," Young's wife Debra Young told the Associated Press about the initial moments of the ordeal. "It took him a while to realize he didn't have any steerage at all. It took him a bit longer to realize he was taking on water."

Young was on the last leg of a trip from the East Coast to Emeryville, CA, when he crossed paths with the whale. Fortunately, the Coast Guard’s command center in Alameda, CA, was able to send a merchant ship that was 60 miles away to rescue him before the boat went down.

"His EPIRB delivered an exact position to us,” said Lt. Charles Kelly of the Coast Guard, “contact information that allowed us to quickly discern the sail plan of and number of persons on the vessel, and really took a lot of the search out of the search and rescue."