spent 52 hours drifting in the Bering Sea before being rescued by the Coast
Guard on Sunday evening. Fifty-year-old Rod Whitehead of Adak and 35-year-old
Bill Osterback of Sand Point hit a rock with the motor of their 15-foot hard-bottomed
Zodiac inflatable near Amatignak Island, about 130 miles southwest of Adak. The
boat they launched their Zodiac from, the Larissa M, was anchored in a cove
hired by a group of surveyors working on remote islands documenting old Aleut
village sites. Whitehead says the Zodiac lost power and the strong current
pulled them away from the island at about 3 p.m. on Friday.
Rescue - 1a ".on the
rocks." 15 s
surveyors who chartered the boat were still on Amatignak Island. Whitehead said
they used their low-power radio to contact the surveyors. No one was on the
Rescue - 2 ".Coast Guard to
come." 10 s
surveyors gathered together old nets, buoys, and boards from around the small
island to build a make-shift raft and oars and get to the boat and the VHF
radio. It took them until almost 10 p.m. the next day. In the meantime, the two
men tried to paddle to shore.
Rescue - 3 ".by that
point." 13 s
realized that they wouldn't be able to get the 15-hundred pound Zodiac to shore
so they tried sleeping in the boat despite the waves. The chances of running
into another boat in the Amchitka Pass were very slim, so they rationed their
Rescue - 4 ".did the
same." 16 s
weather was cold enough to see their breath and they were soaked with water,
Whitehead said they stayed positive.
Rescue - 4b ".we didn't."
morning, they could hear planes circling above them. When the weather cleared
that afternoon, they waved anything they could in the air until the Coast Guard
C-130 aircraft found them and dropped them supplies, like a better radio,
survival suits and food.
Rescue - 5 ".when we received
that." 3 s
By 8 p.m.
Sunday evening a Coast Guard helicopter arrived at the scene and hoisted the
two men to safety. The fishing vessel Heritage headed from Adak to the Larissa
M with a pilot to drive the boat and the four surveyors back to Adak.
Whitehead and Osterbeck were treated for dehydration at the Adak Clinic then
released. Whitehead said both of his feet were numb but are feeling better.