5 Sailors Rescued After Encounter With Whales

Sailors Rescued After Sailboat Capsizes, Sinks

U.S. Coast Guard air crews came to the rescue Wednesday of five people drifting in a lifeboat in Mexican waters after the sailboat they had been in capsized and sank several hundred miles south of Point Loma, authorities reported.

The federal maritime agency received an emergency notification about the accident about 10 a.m., USCG Petty Officer Henry Dunphy said.

The Coast Guard sent out a helicopter from its San Diego station and a C-130 plane from Sacramento, and the chopper crew spotted the lifeboat drifting about 50 miles off the coast of Mexico, Dunphy said.

The helicopter personnel picked up the group -- who had been taking part in a nearly 800-mile mass ocean voyage involving hundreds of sailboats -- and headed back to San Diego.

"It was a miracle. It was like angels were coming to rescue us because we had resigned ourselves to the fact that we were going to be there up to three days to make it to the coast," said Judy Land, who was part of the group at sea.

Crew members said it was a whale ramming the boat's rudder -- and not the high winds at sea -- that caused the boat to capsize.

The captain of the boat, Eugenie Russell, said, "They were big ... I would say a good 50 feet ... I remember seeing 7 or 8 of them."

One of the rescued boaters had a minor hand injury. The other four apparently were unscathed by the mishap, according to Dunphy.

The sailboat trip from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, dubbed the Baja Ha Ha Rally, began Monday and was supposed to end in Cabo San Lucas on Nov. 7.