The Coast Guard station at Astoria, Ore., received a distress call from the only man aboard the 36-foot fishing vessel Charlie & Carol at about 11:30 p.m. Saturday, saying the vessel was taking on water.
He estimated more than 400 gallons of water aboard the ship and reported that his pump was unable to keep up with the water pouring in.
Coast Guard officials dispatched an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Astoria and a 47-foot motor lifeboat crew from Station Cape Disappointment in Ilwaco.
The helicopter crew arrived on scene and lowered a rescue swimmer into the water. Risking his life, the swimmer climbed aboard the listing vessel and helped the man abandon the fishing vessel and climb into a life raft.
The helicopter crew then lowered a rescue basket and hoisted the man and swimmer to the chopper.
The man was taken to Ilwaco. He is suspected of being intoxicated but is refusing to submit to alcohol breath testing, Coast Guard officials said. He is being charged with boating under the influence.
The 47-foot motor lifeboat crew arrived on scene and verified that the vessel sank completely.
The vessel's operator claims the vessel struck an unknown object and began taking on water, though the official cause of the sinking has not been determined.