Stranded California windsurfer rescued after spelling out ‘HELP' with rocks on beach

On the beach, the windsurfer was surrounded by 100-foot cliffs and a rising tide.

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A stranded windsurfer who used rocks to spell out the word "HELP" on a remote Santa Cruz County beach was rescued Sunday after being spotted by a helicopter, officials said.

The windsurfer got stuck on the sand of a cliffside beach south of Davenport Landing, Cal Fire CZU said in a post on social media. He told rescuers that despite being a veteran windsurfer, he found himself in a situation that he couldn't escape from.

The windsurfer took off from Davenport Landing Beach and got pushed down the coastline to the point where he got trapped.

"It was actually very windy out as well, probably 25-plus MPH wind," Cal Fire Capt. Sean Ketchum said.

On the beach, the windsurfer was surrounded by 100-foot cliffs and a rising tide.

"It is an extremely beautiful place to work and live," Cal Fire Capt. Skylar Merritt said. "That being said, it can lull people into a false sense of security around those cliffs. Those beaches are notorious for strong winds, rip tides and cold water."

A private helicopter flying by spotted the windsurfer's "HELP" rock formation and called 911, according to Cal Fire.

A team of first responders worked together to hoist the windsurfer to safety.

"It was a good feeling being there and being able to help just get him out of there," rescuer Jesus Acosta said.

Cal Fire said the windsurfer was physically OK and happy to have been rescued.

"This person was definitely lucky that that person saw him," Merritt said. "It’s no excuse not to have a plan where you communicate with your family, your friends."

First responders said the way the windsurfer was found felt like a movie. "It definitely was the thought that we had when we heard the way that this call came in," Merritt said.

Cal Fire didn't say how long the windsurfer had been stranded on the beach.

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