Coast Guard assists Canadian mariner in distress off Big Island of Hawaii

Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry file photo by Lt. j.g. Peter Driscoll)

Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry file photo by Lt. j.g. Peter Driscoll

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard assisted a distressed Canadian mariner to Hilo Sunday after his vessel began taking on water about 80 miles southeast of the Big Island.

“We’re pleased this mariner is safe. The use of the emergency position indicating radio beacon allowed us to locate him quickly and render assistance,” said Lt. j.g Chloe Harmon, command duty officer, Coast Guard Joint Rescue Coordination Center Honolulu. “All mariners should plan for the worst, take multiple forms of communication and file a float plan with family or friends.”

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry (WPC 1124) escorted the 73-year-old mariner to port aboard his 44-foot Canadian-flagged sailing vessel, Helen Margaret, once the flooding was under control.

Coast Guard watchstanders received an emergency position indicating radio beacon alert at 3:21 a.m. prompting the launch of a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point, a follow-on Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew and the Oliver Berry crew.

The Hercules aircrew located the vessel in the first leg of their search pattern about 70 miles southeast of Hilo, established communication with the man and dropped survival equipment including a dewatering pump. The Dolphin helicopter crew lowered their rescue swimmer to the Helen Margaret. The rescue swimmer was able to retrieve and operate the pump successfully to begin to dewater the vessel. The Oliver Berry crew arrived on scene at 7:47 a.m. and took over, later coming safely to Hilo.

Weather at the time of the case was reported east winds 23 mph. Wind waves 6 feet. North swell 3 feet. Swell south 3 feet. Scattered showers in the evening, then isolated showers after midnight. A small craft advisory is in effect for the Main Hawaiian Islands.

The Coast Guard was initially alerted to the possibility of this mariner being overdue May 12 on a voyage from Panama City, Panama, to Honolulu. The reporting source stated the mariner missed a scheduled check-in on April 28. He was reportedly well equipped for a long journey. Watchstanders from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centers in Alameda, California, and Honolulu have been working the case since through communications call outs, broadcasts, partners, and periodic searches as supporting search area data allowed.

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