BELLINGHAM, Wash. —Marine rescue crews, including a boat from Coast Guard Station Bellingham, rescued more than 20 paddlers caught off guard and capsized by Saturday morning’s winds during the Deception Pass Challenge paddling and rowing race.

No injuries were reported.

Coast Guard 13th District watchstanders received reports at approximately 9:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 11, that several kayak and paddlecraft users capsized during the paddling and rowing race through Deception Pass, according to a Coast Guard release Monday.

Callers estimated that 15 to 20 out of the 75 participants in the race had capsized and were in the water due to high winds, the release stated, and many others needed assistance getting back to shore.

The Coast Guard Cutter Adelie, an 87-foot patrol boat, was already nearby when the call came in, and other crews responded soon after, including those from Coast Guard Station Bellingham, the Coast Guard Cutter Sea Lion and a helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles.

A Skagit County Marine unit and two units from North Whidbey Fire Marine Rescue also responded.

The crew of the Adelie recovered five people from the water and assisted 20 kayakers to safety, the release states, while the Sea Lion recovered two people from the water and helped 10 others to safety.

“This incident highlights the outstanding interagency teamwork we have here in the greater Puget Sound’s search and rescue system,” Capt. Patrick Hilbert, the commander of Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, said in the release. “It also reinforces the importance of wearing a life jacket and constantly assessing the increased risks posed by the weather and water conditions that are always changing here in the Pacific Northwest.”

The release advised paddlers and kayakers to always check marine weather forecasts before heading out on the water.

“High winds and increasing seas are good reasons to postpone being out on the water,” the release reads.

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