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'Talk about fear': Sailboat adrift off Oregon coast for 3 days

Kathy Nurkowski, Marc Winn (in sunglasses) and Todd Holt spent three days adrift in the Pacific Ocean without power or sails. (KCBY/Justina Coelho)

WINCHESTER BAY, Ore. (KCBY) - Marc Winn lost steering on his sailboat, the "Rogues Scholarship," on Monday just as the wind started to pick up and a storm hit.

"Talk about fear," he said.

Winn was sailing from Washington to California with Todd Holt, Kathy Nurkowski, and a dog named Molly.

The storm knocked out their power, tattered their sails and snapped their boom.

The crew was helpless, adrift in the Pacific Ocean.

Winn said all they could do was wait and try not to lose hope as their boat drifted farther and farther from shore.

"We loved each other. Read a little bit, what we could, but you just can't focus on reading," he said.

On the third day, now 60 miles off shore, a literal ray of hope came down from above; Winn said the clouds parted and the sun hit the boat's solar panels, giving them just enough power to call for help.

"I blasted off a signal and nothing came back," Holt said. "I waited another hour and blasted off another one, and the Coast Guard came back -- and we were pretty stoked."

Rescue swimmer Bradley Pigage from Sector North Bend was lowered into the water to let them know that help was on its way.

"They were pretty happy to see the Coast Guard," Pigage said. "It was pretty extraordinary to have all the assets on scene. We had two helicopters launched, a C27 from Sacramento, small boat stationed, and the cutter that was out there."

"They're angels. That's all I can tell you. The Coast Guard are angels," Winn said. "You start to get emotional and swell up inside, because you know these guys are so good at what they do, and you know you're in good hands."

The crew made it back on dry land Wednesday night.

They won't be back on the water any time soon; repairs to the boat will take at least two months.

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