Sailor flown to Coast Guard helicopter from sinking boat off San Diego

Posted at 3:57 PM, Nov 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-07 02:33:02-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A sailor who was rescued at sea off San Onofre State Beach in San Clemente was taken to San Diego by the Coast Guard Monday.

The man called Joint Harbor Operations in San Diego about 11:20 a.m. to report his 18-foot boat was taking on water 12 miles offshore.

“I tried a couple of things to fix the problem and couldn’t figure out where the water was coming in from,” Gillest said.

He was able to radio the Coast Guard for help, who sent a helicopter crew to rescue him.

“I was in contact with the pilot. He said if the stern starts going underwater, its time to get away from the boat,” Gillest said.  “The uncertainty was when I was getting out to me, watching it fill with water, I was like who’s going to get out here? Am I going to be in the water before anyone gets here?”

By around 12:45 p.m., the boat began to sink and Gillest was forced to jump into the water. Gillest, who is retired military and a strong swimmer, says he was in the water for about 10 minutes.

The Coast Guard deployed a rescue swimmer and basket into the water, who was able to reach Gillest, put him into the basket, and hoist him up into the chopper.


“Not really scared because I know the coast guard guys and they’re awesome,” Gillest said, “Everything went textbook.”