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Coast Guard pulls kayaker from turbulent Gulf waters

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Battling high winds and strong currents, a Louisiana kayaker was rescued by the Coast Guard after spending 19 days paddling solo across the Gulf of Mexico.

Arthur Hebert Jr. reached the Louisiana coast Thursday, ending a 675-mile voyage. He was eight miles from the mouth of the Mississippi River when he accepted a ride from the Coast Guard."I had so many days of head winds and so many days of currents," Hebert said. "When I looked out and saw 10-foot seas in the wrong direction and I said, `I made it close enough to land. This is it."'

Hebert took off from Isla Mujeres, Mexico, off the Yucatan Peninsula, on May 16 in order to draw attention to juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. His 19-year-old daughter was diagnosed with the disease when she was 9. By June 3, the 40-year-old was exhausted, delirious and suffering with sores, his family said. He tied up to an oil rig 44 miles west of Grand Isle, La., his original target.

Hebert spent the night paddling in place to keep the 6- to 8-foot waves from crashing his boat into the rig, Texaco team leader Mike Hanlon said.

The crew called the Coast Guard after Hebert left Thursday morning, Chief Petty Officer Buddy Dye said. "They said, `You might want to look for him. He's exhausted, dehydrated,' " Dye said.

Herbert gave up shortly after.