Ship rescues three stranded in rough seas off Hawaii

AP

A container ship crew on Monday rescued three people who had been stranded in a sailboat off the Hawaiian islands for about 24 hours as Hurricane Julio battered their vessel with high winds and giant waves.

The sailors were pulled aboard the container ship at about 8 a.m., said Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Gene Maestas. They were safe and in good condition, he said.

The three people got into trouble while sailing the 42-foot (13-meter) Walkabout from California to Hawaii, Maestas said.

They sent a message for help Sunday morning after the boat became disabled and took on water, the Coast Guard said. According to the Coast Guard, the sailboat was stranded in up to 115 mph (185 kph) winds with 30-foot (9-meter) seas.

One of its hatches blew away and onboard pumps couldn’t keep up with the flooding. The vessel’s life raft also was blown overboard.

The Matson Inc. container ship was the closest vessel in the area that could help. It reached the Walkabout at around 10 p.m. on Sunday.

But the giant vessel had to wait for conditions to improve before evacuating the stranded sailors.

Operations Specialist Andrew Lincoln said crews had to wait until dawn to start the evacuation because performing the rescue before first light, amid rough weather, would be too dangerous.

“The seas were really bad, and it’s kind of windy so they didn’t want to do it in the dark,” he said.

Lincoln said Julio has passed through the area, but it left behind gusting winds and sea swells.

Maestas said the Coast Guard in Honolulu was waiting to hear details about how Monday’s rescue was executed. He said he expects the ship to continue to Honolulu with the sailors.

No other information was immediately available about the sailors or their voyage.

The Manukai was on its way to deliver goods to Honolulu and had embarked on the journey before Tropical Storm Iselle and Hurricane Julio became threats, said Matson spokesman Jeff Hull. It was diverted a bit because of Julio.