Sail­boat sinks near Molokini; 2 res­cued

The Maui News - - NEWS -

Two boaters were res­cued Wed­nes­day night near Molokini Crater, the U.S. Coast Guard re­ported.

Their 44-foot recre­ational sail­ing boat, Orion, sunk in about 70 feet of wa­ter off of the north­east end of the crater, and the owner is work­ing with the Coast Guard, com­mer­cial sal­vagers and oth­ers to de­ter­mine how to re­move it, of­fi­cials said.

“We’re work­ing closely with our part­ner agencies to re­spond to this ground­ing in a sen­si­tive area off Maui,” said Lt. Brock Blais­dell, com­mand duty of­fi­cer for the Coast Guard in Honolulu. “There is a small amount of fuel aboard and no sheen has been seen.”

Blais­dell cred­ited the mariners for act­ing quickly to call for help and put on life­jack­ets when it was nec­es­sary to aban­don ship.

“We re­mind any­one op­er­at­ing in the area to keep a sharp look­out and be cau­tious as the ves­sel is now un­der­wa­ter,” he said.

Coast Guard of­fi­cials in Honolulu re­ceived a dis­tress call via VHF-FM ra­dio from the boaters at 9:31 p.m. Wed­nes­day. A res­cue boat was launched, and an MH-65 Dol­phin he­li­copter crew took off from Bar­bers Point.

The res­cue boat crew ar­rived on the scene within 50 min­utes. Shortly be­fore then, the boat cap­tain re­ported the ves­sel’s hull had been breached, and the boat was tak­ing on wa­ter.

The cap­tain and pas­sen­ger aban­doned ship. The res­cue crew picked them up and brought them to Maalaea Har­bor. No in­juries were re­ported.

Wind was blow­ing 8 to 9 mph, seas were up to 3 feet, and there was wide­spread vol­canic haze, of­fi­cials said.

The mariners were re­port­edly on a sec­ond leg of a voy­age from Cal­i­for­nia to Oahu when the in­ci­dent oc­curred. Their first stop was in Hilo.

Coast Guard of­fi­cials re­gard the sub­merged sail­ing boat as a “mi­nor pol­lu­tion threat,” re­port­edly car­ry­ing as much as 40 gal­lons of diesel fuel, 10 gal­lons of ga­so­line and two ma­rine bat­ter­ies.

Coast Guard per­son­nel planned to re­visit the sink­ing site Thurs­day to make fur­ther as­sess­ments.

The cause of the boat’s sink­ing re­mained un­de­ter­mined.

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