Multiagency search locates fisherman adrift off Kona Coast


A fisherman is safe ashore after his vessel ran out of gas and he spent the night adrift off the coast of Kailua-Kona on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard 14th District in Honolulu.

At 6:11 p.m. Wednesday, watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Honolulu Command Center received a report from the Hawaii County Fire Department that a man was overdue from a fishing trip. The fisherman was last seen Wednesday afternoon on his 17-foot fishing boat approximately 40 miles west of Kailua-Kona near a NOAA data buoy, according to the Coast Guard.

Watchstanders created a probable search area based on the limited available information and launched an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Air Station Barbers Point at 10:20 p.m. Wednesday. The Coast Guard Cutter Kittiwake, an 87-foot patrol boat, was also dispatched from its home-port in Honolulu. At 1:20 a.m. Thursday, the Hercules airplane crew spotted a boat within the area of interest 9 miles west of Kailua-Kona with an individual waving his arms to get their attention, according to the Coast Guard. The Hercules circled the boat until Kittiwake arrived at 4 a.m. to take the vessel in tow.

Kittiwake safely transferred the passenger and vessel to a Hawaii County Fire Department rescue boat who continued the tow to Keauhou Marina, according to the Coast Guard.

The fisherman was wearing a life jacket, but was not equipped with other essential safety equipment such as a working VHF radio, flares and an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, according to the Coast GUard. Mariners should also file a float plan, which can provide critical information to first responders on where to search. Individuals should always stay with their vessel, even if capsized, as it improves their chance of being located.

The Coast Guard strongly encourages boaters to remain aware of their vessel’s fuel capacity and other limitations while operating offshore of the Hawaiian Islands, especially during times of severe weather and high surf. For more information on boating safety, visit uscgboating.org.