4 men rescued from sailboat off Sunset Cliffs

SAN DIEGO – A sailboat grounded on the rocks off Sunset Cliffs Sunday, tossing one mariner into the ocean and forcing lifeguards to rescue him and three other men on the boat.

rescue-1That was one of several nautical mishaps that kept rescuers busy Sunday, a lifeguard said.

A witness called 911 shortly after 11 a.m. to report that a boat was getting too close to shore near Sunset Cliffs, and that waves were pounding the side of the vessel, according to Lifeguard Lt. John Sandmeyer. The caller also erroneously said the boat was on fire.

Two lifeguards from Ocean Beach responded to the call, along with a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter, a lifeguard rescue boat and a fire boat. They found a 27-foot sloop had been returning from Mission Bay to its home berth in San Diego Bay, when it went aground about 80 yards offshore, near Sunset Cliffs Boulevard and Ladera Street, Sandmeyer said.

Four men, all in their 60s and 70s, were rescued unharmed, but lifeguards could not dislodge the 27-foot sloop from the rocks. At midafternoon, lifeguards were waiting for the tide to rise before attempting to pull the boat from the rocks.

At about the same time, another boat was about to run aground at Mission Beach, according to Sandmeyer. Winds had pushed the solo sailor into the surfline, lifeguards towed him out to sea to make a fetch back to the Mission Bay channel..

A third incident of a possible boat run aground was reported about the same time at the Naval Station North Island shoreline, just north of Coronado, but Sandmeyer did not have details.