As reported on www.signonsandiego.com
Photo courtesy of SignOnSanDiego.Com
The man paddled out in the single-person canoe from Oceanside Harbor about 4:45 p.m. and was expected to return before sunset, said Rich Dann, a search and rescue specialist with the Coast Guard.
When he did not return by nightfall, a search was launched.
Oceanside Harbor Police and lifeguards were notified, as well as officials at nearby Camp Pendleton, who all began looking for him, Dann said. A U.S. Coast Guard cutter and a helicopter were also called.
The canoer was located about 9 p.m. a quarter-mile south of the entrance to Oceanside Harbor, Dann said. A fisherman in an aluminum boat spotted the man in the water and he was pulled into a harbor police boat.
The man told authorities he was about two to three miles offshore when choppy waves broke his canoe apart and it sank, Dann said.
He was not wearing a life vest nor carrying any communications devices when he was found, Dann said. It’s not clear if he had any safety equipment in the boat, although carrying a personal flotation device is required, the Coast Guard official said.
The conditions were clear, the water was a bit choppy and the ocean temperature was about 65 degrees.
“We felt that he was very lucky,” Dann said. “To look for a person at night is very difficult.”
Dann said it is very hard to see a head bobbing in the water. Sometimes a person can be just a few hundred yards away from rescuers yelling and screaming and still not be seen.
The canoer was beginning to suffer from hypothermia when he was found. He was treated with hot packs and was driven to the hospital by family members, Dann said.
The man told authorities he was practicing for a race. Canoers frequently paddle out from the shore and then ride the waves back in, officials said.