SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A Northern California man who was rescued from his sinking sailboat off the coast of Mexico is spending Father's Day on a freighter bound for Panama, but his wife hopes to see him in time for their 23rd wedding anniversary.
Max Young, of Sacramento, was sailing alone late Tuesday about 40 miles west of La Playa, Mexico, when his 50-foot boat was hit by a whale, lost its steering and started taking on water, Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Pamela Boehland said.
The impact from the collision knocked out the sailboat's steering, Boehland said.
Young's wife, Debra Young, who has been able to talk to her husband while on board the merchant ship as it makes its way to Panama, said he's not expected to make it back to Sacramento until Monday or Tuesday of next week, a day or two after their anniversary.
Max Young, 67, has been sailing for at least 30 years, but having worked on boats with his father, who was a commercial fishermen, he's been on the ocean most of his life.
That experience and preparation for emergencies probably helped turn a potential tragedy into a dramatic rescue.
"The fact that Young was prepared with all the right safety equipment helped save his life," said Lt. Charles Kelly, of the Coast Guard's command center in Alameda, Calif. "His EPIRB (emergency beacon) delivered an exact position to us, contact information that allowed us to quickly discern the sail plan of and number of persons on the vessel, and really took a lot of the search out of the search and rescue."
With that information, officials at the command center were able to immediately direct the merchant ship, which was about 60 miles away, to the sinking craft.
Young stuffed a mattress into the hole caused by the whale, turned on four bilge pumps and was bailing water as fast as he could.
When the freighter arrived around 4 a.m. Wednesday, Young scrambled off his boat by a rope ladder thrown by the ship's crew. He was unharmed.
"This case is one of those success stories," Boehland said. "A man went out prepared, the worst happened to him, and he was able to respond," she said.
The Youngs, who have four adult children, between the ages of 46 to 21, from previous marriages, have traveled around the world in the sailboat
Max Young, a former industrial arts teacher in Antioch, was on the final leg of a trip from the East Coast to a marina in Emeryville, Calif., when the boat was hit by the whale