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VIDEO: Coast Guard Rescues Fisherman Adrift Off Kona Coast

Posted January 16, 2014, 03:59 PM HST Updated January 17, 2014, 02:50 PM HST
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The green box on this map shows the initial area of search while the larger red one shows the wider search area. Coast Guard image.

The Coast Guard early today rescued a fisherman who had spent most of the night adrift off the Kona coast after his boat ran out of gas.

At 6:11 p.m. Wednesday, the Hawaii Fire Department informed the Coast Guard that the man aboard a 17-foot vessel was overdue from a fishing trip.

He had last been seen about 40 miles west of Kailua-Kona, near a NOAA data buoy.

An HC-130 Hercules aircraft was sent from Air Station Barbers Point at 10:20 p.m., and the 87-foot Coast Guard cutter Kittiwake was dispatched from its home port in Honolulu.

Crew members aboard the Hercules spotted the vessel at 1:20 a.m. about nine miles of Kailua-Kona. The man was waving his arms to get their attention.

When the aircraft’s crew dropped flares near the boat to increase visibility, the fisherman attached a safety line to his body, jumped overboard and swam to retrieve one.

Video provided by the Coast Guard shows him holding the flare on board and apparently attempting to fix it to the boat’s gunwale.

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When the aircraft’s crew dropped flares near the boat to increase visibility, the fisherman attached a safety line to his body, jumped overboard and swam to retrieve one.

Video provided by the Coast Guard shows him holding the flare on board and apparently attempting to fix it to the boat’s gunwale.

The aircraft circled the boat until the Kittiwake arrived at 4 a.m. to take the vessel in tow.

They transferred the vessel to a fire department rescue boat which completed the tow to the Keauhou Marina.

“We are thankful that the C-130 and Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake were able to locate the fisherman,” said Lt. Cmdr. James Bendle, search and rescue mission coordinator for Coast Guard Sector Honolulu.

Bendle said the operation was a team effort that included a search of the coastline by the Hawaii Fire Department, which also delivered the man to his family this mornin.

The fisherman was not identified.

The fisherman was wearing a life jacket, but was not equipped with other essential safety equipment such as a working VHF radio, flares or an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

Officials said mariners should also file a float plan, which can provide critical information to first responders on where to search.

They said individuals should always stay with their vessel, even if capsized, as it improves their chance of being located.

The Coast Guard also encouraged boaters to remain aware of their vessel’s fuel capacity and other limitations while operating offshore of the Hawaiian Islands, especially during times of severe weather and high surf.

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