Waves crash against rocks at Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park in this September 2017 file photo. Credit: Ashley L. Conti | BDN

A woman was safely rescued Saturday from the ocean off Acadia National Park after she was struck by a wave and dragged into the water while watching surf crash along Ocean Drive.

The woman, a 20-year-old from Royalston, Massachusetts, was sitting on a rocky ledge a few hundred yards south of Thunder Hole when the wave sucked her in, according to a park official. 

Visitors to Acadia had gathered along the craggy shoreline to watch waves generated by Hurricane Earl, which passed the Northeast far out to sea this weekend.

High tide on Saturday was at 11:15 a.m. and the incident occurred shortly after 11:30, said Sean Bonnage, spokesman for Acadia. 

The Coast Guard was notified immediately and, about 20 minutes after sending a vessel from its station in Southwest Harbor, located the woman and got her safely out of the water, according to Matthew Strickland, a spokesman with the Coast Guard’s Sector Northern New England based in South Portland.

Waves in the Gulf of Maine have been bigger than normal this weekend due to the passing hurricane. Strickland said wind speeds in Southwest Harbor at the time of the rescue were between 7 and 10 mph and wave heights were around 3 to 5 feet.

“They were on the scene pretty quickly,” Strickland said of the responding Coast Guard crew.

The woman was transported to Bar Harbor where she was checked by emergency medical technicians, he said. The woman was uninjured in the incident.

The National Weather Service office in Caribou on Friday posted a message on Twitter advising people to stay “a safe distance from the crashing waves.”

Thunder Hole is a popular spot for park visitors, especially when rough weather kicks up the surf, causing big waves to splash dramatically along the bedrock outcroppings along Ocean Drive. The site is known to draw a lot of people especially in late summer, when tourism peaks and occasional tropical storms blow north along the East Coast.

“Acadia was experiencing high surf on Saturday due to Hurricane Earl,” Bonnage said Monday. “Rangers were on Ocean Drive warning people about the high surf.”

Bonnage said visitors to the park should always be aware of their surroundings and respect the power of the ocean.

He said it was not clear if the wave that swept the woman into the water was unusually large but that “‘sneaker’ or ‘rogue’ waves aren’t that uncommon.”

In 2009, an unusually large wave generated by Hurricane Bill, which also passed far out to sea, drenched visitors gathered on the shore near Thunder Hole and dragged several people into the water. Some were injured when the wave crashed into them and one person, a 7 year-old girl from New York, was dragged into the ocean and drowned.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story reported an inaccurate time for when the Coast Guard was notified the woman was in the water.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....