Coast Guard responds to mariner in distress south of Maui

Coast Guard Cutter Kiska

Cutter Kiska file photo

HONOLULU — The Coast Guard responded to a distress call from the master of the 30-foot sailing vessel Kolina Thursday night 20 miles south of Maui.

The master of the vessel, a 71-year-old man, was recovered unresponsive by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Kiska Friday and taken to Kawaihae, Hawaii, where they were met by EMS.

The master contacted the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu command center via VHF radio about 3:50 p.m. Thursday and stated his sailing vessel was disabled and adrift. He was the lone occupant. The watchstanders at Sector Honolulu directed the launch of an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point.

The Dolphin crew located the Kolina about 20 miles south of Maui and 27 miles west of Kawaihae, Hawaii. Watchstanders diverted the Kiska to take the vessel in tow.

The crew of the Kiska arrived on scene about 5 hours later; instructed the master to don his lifejacket, provided him a handheld radio, established a tow and began paying out line just before midnight. During the towing evolution, the Kiska crew lost communications with the mariner aboard the sailing vessel and observed that the mast had snapped.

The Kiska crew cut the towline and circled back to the vessel to investigate. The Dolphin crew arrived back on scene after refueling in Maui; deployed their rescue swimmer and verified the master was not aboard the Kolina. Coast Guard watchstanders at Sector Honolulu issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast alerting mariners in the region to the situation and directed the launch of additional Coast Guard crews. An HC-130 Hercules airplane crew and the Dolphin helicopter crew searched as well as the Kiska.

A 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew arrived on scene from Coast Guard Station Maui to take the sailing vessel in tow, while the search was ongoing. They located the master, caught in the rigging alongside the vessel. Due to the weather it was determined the Kiska crew was best suited to attempt recovery of the master and did so successfully.

On scene weather was reportedly seas up to 10 feet with 35 mph winds. Out of respect for the family, the name of the mariner is being withheld.

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