Sailboat sinks near Molokini; 2 rescued
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.