Thursday, March 10, 2005

6 people survive
after their boat sinks

KAILUA-KONA » A 35-foot charter fishing boat sank off the coast near Kailua-Kona Tuesday evening, but five people on board were rescued and a sixth swam to shore, the Hawaii County Fire Department said.


Acting fire Capt. Randall Chun identified the boat as the Linda Sue II, a Hatteras-design vessel based at Honokohau Harbor.

A Web site for the boat identified the captain and owner as Jeff Heinz. The Star-Bulletin could not immediately reach him for an explanation of the sinking, and Chun said he did not know the reason.

The Fire Department received a call at 7:28 p.m. that the boat was in trouble, Chun said. Heinz had called his wife on a cell phone and put out an emergency call on two radio frequencies, Chun said.

Chun and three rescuers responded from Honokohau Harbor in the department's 25-foot open Radon boat.

Meanwhile, a department helicopter responded from South Kohala, arriving on scene slightly before Chun. The boat had already sunk, he said.

Rescuers picked five people from the water: Heinz and a family of four, including a father, mother, their daughter and their son-in-law, Chun said. The names of the family members were not released.

By the time rescue workers got to the survivors, wind and currents had carried them to about a mile offshore from a site on land called Pine Trees.

But the boat went down closer to shore in about 10 fathoms, or 60 feet, of water, Heinz told Chun.

Searchers were unable to find the ship's mate, but they eventually learned that he swam to shore at the time of the sinking.

Another charter skipper, Brian Wargo, said he saw the Linda Sue II earlier in the day fighting to reel in a marlin. The weather was starting to deteriorate at that point, Wargo said, but it was unclear if that had anything to do with the boat's sinking.

The Linda Sue II Web site says, "We go out earlier and stay out longer."

It shows the boat with a rigid cabin and another canopy-covered deck on top of it as a perch for scanning the ocean.

Heinz has been a charter captain since 1969 and has lived in Kona since 1990, the site says. The boat was named for Heinz's two daughters, Linda and Susan.

Linda Sue II

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