Hunter not in distress, but his boat was

Herald staff

OAK HARBOR — Dozens of fire and police officials conducted a search for what they thought might be a duck hunter in distress after a boat was reported adrift with a shotgun, life vests and other items still aboard.

It took a couple hours for law agencies to learn that nobody was in jeopardy. The boat had been lost the previous week by an Everett man, Island County sheriff’s Cmdr. Russ Lindner said Monday.

Fire officials retrieved the drifting boat, and Lindner decided Sunday afternoon to conduct the search because of the items found in the 12-foot aluminum vessel. It looked like a duck hunter had fallen overboard.

Fire officials searched the shore, the sheriff’s office hauled out its 22-foot rescue boat and a Coast Guard helicopter searched around the Pen Cove and Oak Harbor Bay areas.

The search was discontinued when officials contacted the boat’s owner using Coast Guard identification numbers, Lindner said. The owner said he was hunting in the Stanwood-Camano Island area and got his boat stuck on tide flats.

By the time he hiked to his vehicle and came back to retrieve the boat, it had floated away, Lindner said.

"He apologized for causing the search," Lindner said. The owner said he had reported losing the boat to Everett police, but that was the wrong agency. Lindner said such a loss should be reported to the Coast Guard or to an agency with jurisdiction in the area of the incident.

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