Crew of disabled sailboat rescued 900 miles southeast of Hilo

The steel brigantine Robert C. Seamans

The Robert C. Seamans. Photo by Stan Shebs

HONOLULU— The Coast Guard and the crew of a good Samaritan vessel assisted the crew of a sailboat 900 miles southeast of Hilo Friday after the ship’s sails frayed and fuel began to run low.

Coast Guard search and rescue watchstanders from the Honolulu’s Joint Rescue Coordination Center received a distress call at 7:40 a.m. Friday via satellite phone from the captain of the 43-foot sailboat Kehaulani. The 66 year-old captain and a 63 year-old woman were the only crew aboard the sailboat.

The captain estimated the vessel had two days of fuel remaining and would likely be 475 miles short of their next scheduled port-of-call on the Big Island.

Watchstanders issued a SafetyNET message, a tool used by the Coast Guard to alert the maritime public to a distress or potential distress.

“It’s a valuable resource for finding SAR assets near a distress incident,” said Lt. Max Seda, search and rescue mission controller and command duty officer for JRCC Honolulu.

The captain of the 134-foot steel brigantine, Robert C. Seamans, was 150 miles away and quickly responded to the distress message. He established communications with the Kehaulani crew and coordinated a rendezvous location.

The crew of the Robert C. Seamans met the sailboat at 8 a.m. Saturday and provided 40 gallons of diesel fuel and successfully repaired the broken sail.

“It’s always beneficial to have good Samaritans to help in times of distress, especially in remote locations,” said Seda. “I want to especially thank the captain of the Robert C. Seamans for answering the call to help Kehaulani from becoming a potential disaster.”

The crew of the Kehaulani remains on a 24-hour communication schedule with the Coast Guard until they reach Hilo.

The Coast Guard would like to remind mariners to ensure they have appropriate safety equipment aboard to respond to unforeseen emergencies.

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