County of Marin - News Releases - Tomales Bay Rescues

For Immediate Release
November 15, 2015

9 People Rescued From Tomales Bay

Multiple agencies collaborate during high wind and surf advisories

Marshall, CA – Nine people and one dog were rescued in two back-to-back incidents Sunday during windy and high-surf conditions on Tomales Bay.
Rescued people walk on a pier toward safety as a single-person watercraft and a larger rescue boat are docked at the end of the pier.Rescued boaters are led up a pier toward Nick's Cove.
Marin County Fire Department (MCFD) personnel worked with National Park Service rangers, the California Highway Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard on the two rescues off Sacramento Landing, at about the midpoint of Tomales Bay’s western shore, said MCFD Battalion Chief Bret McTigue. The rescued people included five men and two women, all in their 20s and 30s. They were all checked by medical personnel and released without hospitalization. The dog, described as a large mixed-breed, was unhurt. 

At 11:36 a.m., kayakers were reported in distress off Sacramento Landing, prompting MCFD to launch single-person rescue watercraft from its Point Reyes Station fire station. With Battalion Engineers Matt Chan and Darrell Galli arrived on their watercraft and found four people and the dog in the 56-degree water. All had been dumped into the water by waves that were reaching four feet high, whipped by winds of more than 30 mph. The kayakers and dog were pulled onto the watercraft at about 12:04 p.m. and taken to the east side of the bay to Nick’s Cove resort and restaurant in Marshall.

Those rescued had been warned about the rough conditions. About three hours earlier, MCFD was notified about stranded campers who had kayaked from Nick’s Cove the previous day to the Sacramento Landing area. The campers were told to shelter in place and not go out on the bay until Monday morning or until conditions improved. The region was under a high surf advisory and high wind advisory. 

As the kayakers were arriving safely at Nick’s Cove, another person who had been on a 14-foot aluminum boat with four other people used a personal camping radio to call to the shore and say that the boat had capsized on the bay. Chan and Galli completed the earlier rescue and proceeded toward a spot about two miles north of Sacramento Landing where the boat had been capsized by the waves. With help from the California Highway Patrol helicopter crew, a National Park Service patrol boat found the stranded people and plucked four of them from the water at 12:14 p.m., with one of the firefighters picking up the other person.

In all, seven of the nine people rescued were wearing lifejackets, McTigue said; two of the kayakers were without them. 

The staff at Nick’s Cove provided food, dry clothing, showers and shelter to all nine rescued people, according to Battalion Chief Jeremey Pierce, who coordinated the rescues for MCFD.

First-responders have been busy with Tomales Bay rescues. On September 13, MCFD helped rescue 54 kayakers participating in a bioluminescence paddle tour when conditions turned rough on Tomales Bay. Two people were treated for mild hypothermia, but no hospitalizations were required. On October 4, MCFD personnel rescued four people in two sailboating incidents on Tomales Bay. Other rescues have been happening steadily, mostly on the weekends. 

“As we continue to see large-scale rescues on Tomales Bay, it’s critically important that boaters, kayakers and canoers are prepared and understand the weather and dynamics of our coastline,” MCFD Chief Jason Weber. “Our coast has become the backyard of the Bay Area and beyond. Visitors and those recreating need to understand the dangers this beautiful coast presents. I’m very proud of the firefighters who have worked tirelessly to create a program that allows us to perform these dramatic rescues.”

Now in its second year, the MCFD rescue watercraft program saved 25 stranded people over its first 12 months. Approximately 225 personnel from MCFD and partnering agencies have received training through the program, which uses six rescue watercraft and other equipment purchased with funds from a $68,000 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant.


Bret McTigue
Battalion Chief
Marin County Fire Department

33 Castle Rock Ave.
Woodacre, CA 94973
(415) 473-6717
Email: Bret McTigue
Marin County Fire website