Wash. sailor rescued by Coast Guard near Tillamook

WARRENTON, Ore. - A sailor was pulled to safety by the Coast Guard Sector Columbia River following what officials say was the first major storm of the season.

Duane Jones of Oak Harbor Washington was battling 20-foot high waves on his 40-foot long sailboat, The Rock, when he made a call for help. A combination of severe weather and nightfall created a dangerous situation for Jones who was more than 14 miles off shore of Tillamook Harbor.

"This guy did the right thing in letting us know that he was experiencing difficulties, and then asking for help when things got beyond his control," said Petty Officer 1st Class William Whitford, an operations specialist at Sector Columbia River.

The Coast Guard used helicopters to fly in and safely hoist Jones from his boat.

"This is our first major storm of the fall and we want to make sure that all boaters are prepared for the weather," Officer Whitford said. "All boaters need to be prepared for any possibilities, including having the proper radio equipment on board to call for help if needed."

Crews from Air Station Astoria are planning to search for the abandoned sailboat as soon as weather permits. Salvage of the boat will be Jones' responsibility.

The National Weather Service has issued storm warnings for the Oregon and Washington coasts.