A combination of wind and tidal currents pushed a 26-foot Haida sailboat named the Melissa Leah onto South Beach on Tuesday, June 19.
South Beach is part of the San Juan Island National Historical Park.
“Luckily he missed the rocks, and there was no damage to the boat,” said San Juan County Undersheriff Zac Reimer, who responded to the call at 2 a.m. that morning.
The skipper Jim Edmark was uninjured, according to Reimer, and due to the fact that the boat is a sailing vessel with no engine, no oil was spilled. Edmark is in the Race to Alaska, which runs from Port Townsend, Washington, up to Ketchikan, Alaska, a total of 750 miles. According to Reimer, race rules forbid the use of motors or any support, so Edmark was hoping to use the high tide to get back in the water to remain in the race.
The vessel came aground on the sand and gravel area in the middle of the main beach, and below the mean high tide which is outside the national park’s jurisdiction, according to park superintendent Elexis Fredy. Park service staff, however, did check in with Edmark to make sure he was safe, unharmed and had a plan to remove his boat. As the high tide came Tuesday evening, the Melissa Leah was able to get back into the water, and the race, and can be followed on the Race to Alaska website, at https://r2ak.com, under the team Dock Rat.