BLUE HILL — A 41-year-old Massachusetts man was killed Saturday when his homemade kayak overturned and trapped him underwater.
Officials have identified the drowned man as Randall Rayner of Buckland, Mass. Rayner was kayaking alone in Blue Hill Bay between Long Island and Sand Point, when the accident occurred.
At around noon Saturday, the U.S. Coast Guard Group at Southwest Harbor, received a report of an overturned kayak from the sailboat Fleana.
U.S. Coast Guard BM1 Steve Thompson, operations duty officer for the day, said Saturday evening that the pilot of the sailboat reported that he had seen something in the water and had approached it to investigate. “Once he arrived on scene he noticed it was an overturned kayak. He re-righted it, and there was a body in it,” he said.
Marine Patrol Officer Ron Muir said Sunday that Rayner, an experienced kayaker, had been visiting the area and decided to kayak around Blue Hill Bay Saturday.
According to an eyewitness, Muir said, when Rayner launched his 21-foot homemade kayak at around 9 a.m. Saturday morning, it flipped over at the boat landing. The witness said Rayner pumped out the kayak and went out.
Muir speculated that the spray skirt, that keeps water out of the kayak, either was not on or became dislodged. When the kayak overturned, it apparently filled with water making it difficult for Rayner to right himself. Muir said there was no indication of foul play.
Coast Guard officials said Sunday that Rayner was not wearing a flotation vest, but was wearing a CO2-activated flotation belt that was not U.S. Coast Guard approved.
The U.S. Coast Guard’s 41-foot utility boat was sent to the area to retrieve Rayner’s body and the kayak. His body first was taken to Mount Desert Island Hospital and later to the Maine Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta for positive identification.