Men found on raft after boat sinks south of Maui
The two Big Isle men were uninjured after being adrift six hours
WAILUKU » Two men spent several hours adrift yesterday on an inflatable raft in the early morning darkness after their vessel sank south of Maui.
Big Island residents Robert McCracken and Ernie Falk were taking the 48-foot pleasure boat Princess Natasha from Hilo to Honolulu's Ala Wai Yacht Harbor when it sank about three to six miles south of Molokini island, Coast Guard Chief Chris Tinley said.
Tinley said the two men had been on the raft for about six hours.
He said they looked tired and wet but otherwise were OK and required no medical attention.
"They were fine. They didn't have any medical problems," Tinley said.
Tinley said the men told the Coast Guard the vessel's bottom struck a reef off Kahoolawe and began taking water. He said the reef southwest of Kahoolawe extends about a mile offshore and can be as shallow as a foot deep.
He said the vessel's radio phone did not work, and McCracken's cell phone battery also was down. But McCracken was able to rig the cell phone to another battery and call emergency 911 on Maui.
The tug Ocean Service noticed the men in the water about 2.5 to three miles south of Molokini at about 6:20 a.m., after flares were fired from the life raft, the Coast Guard said.
The men were transferred to a Coast Guard rescue vessel and brought to Maalaea Harbor.
The Princess Natasha left Hilo Harbor between 11:30 a.m. and noon Tuesday en route to Honolulu, a state official said.
"Oh my God," part-owner Mary Deguchi said after learning about the vessel's fate. "I wonder what happened. The last I heard, they were fine."
Deguchi said the vessel had been based out of Hilo Harbor for a year and was going to the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor for recreational use and also was to be listed for sale.
Deguchi said McCracken and Falk were paid to take the vessel to Oahu, and the motorized vessel was fully operational and had been checked out.
She said the vessel's value was $220,000.