A California man was rescued by authorities after his 50-foot-boat was hit by a whale as he sailed about 40 miles from the western coast of Mexico.

Max Young, 67, was on his final leg of a trip from the East Coast to a marina in Emeryville, Calif., when the whale struck his boat, reports said. Young is an experienced captain and has been sailing for 30 years, according to his wife, Debra Young. When he was growing up, he worked on his father's fishing boats, she said.

When the whale hit Young's boat, the collision knocked out the steering, and the vessel quickly began taking on water late Tuesday. The Sacramento native stuffed a mattress into the hole in his ship, which was caused when the whale rammed the vessel. He turned on four bilge pumps in an effort to bail out water as fast as he could, because he didn't know how long it would take to be rescued, his wife told the Associated Press.

He quickly activated an emergency beacon alerting the Coast Guard to his current location.

His [radio distress beacon] delivered an exact position to us, contact information that allowed us to quickly discern the sail plan of and number of persons on the vessel, and really took a lot of the search out of the search and rescue, said Lt. Charles Kelly, of the Coast Guard's command center in Alameda, Calif.

Officials at the Coast Guard command center were able to direct merchant ships to Young's boat.

He was steering the boat and trying to get it back on course, his wife said, according to KTVU. It took him a while to realize he didn't have any steerage at all. It took him a bit longer to realize he was taking on water.

A merchant freighter arrived about 4 a.m., according to NBC. The crew threw Young a rope ladder, and he made his way onto the ship of good Samaritans.

Debra Young said she was able to get in touch with her husband while he was on board the ship; however, he may not make it back to Sacramento for another week.