Monday, November 14, 2005

Rough Water Runs Boat Aground

Hawaii County fire fighters performed a daring rescue Friday morning airlifting a crew of six off a disabled fishing boat after it ran aground in rough seas.
The Seven Stars
It was a fisherman's nightmare. A boat without power and angry ocean swells pushing toward a rocky coast surrounded by sea cliffs. That was the scenario the crew of the Seven Stars faced before sun-up Friday just South of Onomea Bay on the Big Island. The rescue team from the Waiakea Fire Station got the call for help at 4:51 a.m. after the emergency positioning indicating rescue beacon, or EPIRB, on the Seven Stars was set off. When the fire rescue helicopter arrived, pilot Paul Darryl and rescue specialist Garrett Kim found one of the fishermen floating in a life vest several hundred feet from shore. The other five were still on the boat getting batted around by pounding surf. "It was a good thing that all the personnel on board had their life vest on, that they created reflections so as they moved the lights would flicker and then we could spot them completely," Darryl said. When the sun came up, the disabled boat could be seen grinding onto rocks along the rugged coast. "The water conditions caused some problems because it was covering the boat and it was where the entire boat was covered," said fire captain Miles Kawazoe. "Since it was still dark, I had trouble actually seeing the net underneath me. So I had to deploy the net, hover along side, and have the rescue man swim into the net and then I would just pick them up," Darryl added. The 69-foot Seven Stars is based in Honolulu and owned by the Kwang Myong company. Crew tried to explain what happened, but language was a barrier. They indicated they had lost power before running aground. The Coast Guard is investigating the incident. A company has been hired to pump an estimated 700 gallons of diesel fuel off the boat. There is no word yet on whether or not the Seven Stars can be salvaged. The Coast Guard is monitoring the situation and watching to see if the Seven Stars becomes an environmental hazard.

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