Yacht crew stranded after possible whale collision
Four people who abandoned their sailing boat after it was damaged in an apparent collision with a whale were awaiting rescue last night about 450 miles north of the Big Island.
Coast Guard aircraft had the life raft in sight throughout the day yesterday as two other vessels headed toward the site. A cargo ship was expected to reach the location late last night.
The captain of Mureadritta's XL reported to the Coast Guard that no one was injured but that the 40-foot boat was badly damaged in a collision with what he thought were whales.
The Mureadritta's XL competed earlier this month in a transpacific yacht race from Richmond, Calif., to Kaneohe Bay. The boat is owned by Anthony Barran and based in Las Vegas, according to the West Marine Pacific Cup Web site.
A Coast Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft from Barbers Point Naval Air Station was on the scene by 11 a.m., about two hours after the yacht crew abandoned ship. It was relieved at the scene by a second aircraft and another was sent for a third shift to monitor the life raft.
The cargo vessel Maersk Darwin, en route to China, was about 90 miles away when the Coast Guard requested assistance. It was expected to be on the scene about 8 p.m. to rescue the survivors. They were to be transferred later to the vessel Cammie M for transport to Honolulu.
A Coast Guard release applauded ships and crews that respond to other mariners' requests for assistance. One of its own vessels was under tow yesterday and expected back in Honolulu Harbor last night. The cutter Walnut had a mechanical failure off the Big Island on Sunday evening and available Coast Guard vessels did not have the capability to safely tow the 2,000-ton Walnut to Honolulu. The Coast Guard contracted with Young Brothers and the tug Pacific Master was sent to the Coast Guard's rescue.