The 67-year-old sailor was sailing off Leadbetter Point State Park, Washington when his yacht hit an unknown object and began taking on water

A man has been rescued off the Washington coast after his yacht hit an unknown object and began sinking, forcing him to abandon ship.

The 67-year-old solo skipper suffered head injuries as a result of the collision.

He had contacted watchstanders at the  U.S. Coast Guard Sector Columbia River on VHF Channel 16 when he realised his 45-foot pleasure yacht, Sea Crest, was taking on water.

At the time, the skipper was around nine miles off Leadbetter Point State Park, Washington.

He said he was conducting a vessel check for a new navigation system and was in auto-pilot at the time of the collision.

The incident happened just after 10pm on Friday (28 July).

In a statement, the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific NorthWest said: “He reported that during the collision he hit his head and may have lost consciousness, but was not sure for how long, and water was coming into the deck scuppers.”

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The skipper abandoned ship into his 17-foot yacht tender with a life jacket, survival suit and flares, keeping in contact with the U.S, Coast Guard.

Shortly after he informed the watch standers that he had lost sight of the lights of the Sea Crest and “heard sounds that indicated the vessel might have sunk”.

The man was rescued at just after 11pm when the crew of an MH-60 Jaywhawk helicopter  from Coast Guard Air Station Astoria arrived off the Washington coast and airlifted the sailor to safety.

“The aircrew was on scene with the yacht tender at 11:06 p.m. and while preparing for the hoist, they sighted small items in the water. After they finished the hoist at 11:35 p.m., they marked the yacht tender with a strobe light as the onboard lights had been extinguished,” continued the statement.

“They landed at the air station at 11:56 p.m., and after the mariner was checked by EMS, he refused any further medical treatment.”

Debris from a yacht floating in the ocean

Some of the debris from the sunken yacht. Credit: Lt. Cmdr. James Gibson/U.S. Coast Guard

A 47-foot motor lifeboat crew, from Coast Guard Station Grays Harbor in Westport, Washington, also responded to the incident.

They arrived on scene at just after midnight, located the yacht tender and towed it back to their station.

On Saturday morning (29 July), a second Jayhawk helicopter crew from the air station in Astoria conducted an overflight where they located the sunken vessel and spotted two sheens on the water.

The crew marked the location with a self-locating datum marker buoy and sector watchstanders issued an safety marine information broadcast to alert mariners of the potential navigation hazard.