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Camp counselors went for a paddle in the San Juans, then the afternoon wind picked up

A 45-foot motor lifeboat crew from Coast Guard Station Bellingham assisted 11 stranded kayakers from the YMCA Camp Orkila in the San Juan Islands Tuesday night after the paddlers took refuge in a cove to escape afternoon winds.

According to a U.S. Coast Guard 13th District Pacific Northwest news release and a Coast Guard Station Bellingham Facebook post on the incident, the Coast Guard was notified at 4:56 p.m. that the kayakers, who were counselors at the camp, were kayaking in the Rosario Strait and were overtaken by 15-knot winds and a small craft advisory.

The kayakers took refuge in a cove off Little Sister Island, which is south of Clark Island and west of Lummi Island, according to the release.

The Coast Guard lifeboat rescued the stranded kayakers by pulling them from the cove and transferring them to a boat from the YMCA camp, which is located on Orcas Island. According to the release, a Coast Guard NH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Port Angeles also was on the scene.

“The Coast Guard reminds the public to stay alert of their surroundings and pay attention to the weather and tides when venturing out on ocean trips,” the release said.

David Rasbach joined The Bellingham Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news. He has been an editor and writer in several western states since 1994.