At around 5pm Wednesday evening, a surfer was reported to be in distress off the point at Devil’s Punchbowl. It prompted Depoe Bay and Newport Fire Rescue along with a Coast Guard helicopter to be called to the area to help get him, and a presumed friend-rescuer out of the water. It was reported that the distressed surfer was stranded just south of the point and wasn’t able to get back to shore. His rescuer swam out in an attempt to pull him in.
Fire/Rescue personnel were assembling on the beach just about the time the two managed to get back into an area where the waves carried them back to the beach. The rescuer was described by a witness as an experienced lifeguard from California. The witness indicated the distressed surfer was likely caught in one of the Punchbowl’s notorious rip currents that pull surfers and swimmers seaward out from the headlands.
Fire rescue personnel said even experienced surfers can get into trouble off Central Coast beaches and headlands. This time of year the sun goes down fast. It does NOT linger like in the summer. When our winter sun drops below the horizon its’ “lights out” very quickly due to the sun being so far to the south. They also say surfers should understand that coastal waves conditions can change very quickly causing spontaneous rip currents which can take a surfer a mile offshore or more in just a few minutes. And lastly, they say let people know where you’re surfing and set a time for your return or for a check-in phone call.
Both surfers were reported to be tired but in good shape and required to medical attention.