Cargo shipper aids sailor


POSTED: Saturday, June 13, 2009

Joe Cochran has sailed for more than 40 years, but never on a 580-foot-long, 10-deck cargo ship.

Cochran, a senior sailing judge and 2008 Yachtsman of the Year, will return home to Honolulu on a roll-on, roll-off cargo ship after being stuck in California for a month with a punctured lung.

“;There was just no other way to get him home,”; said Michael Roth, a fellow sailing judge who has worked with Cochran for many years.

Cochran was in San Diego with his wife to judge a sailing competition on May 2 when he slipped and fell, said Roth. Cochran broke a rib in the accident, which punctured his lung. Doctors told Cochran that he could not fly home because of his injury, and the next cruise ship to the islands was five months away, said Roth.

Meanwhile, the Hawaii sailing community came together to think of ways to get Cochran home without flying. The obvious choice would be to sail him home on a Transpac yacht.

“;We were looking to put him on a Transpac boat, but we were worried it would be too violent of an environment with a broken rib and it would take much longer than five days,”; said Roth. The average time of a trans-Pacific journey on a sailboat is 10 days.

With no options left, Roth and other sailors contacted all major shipping lines to ask whether Cochran could ride on a vessel that was heading to Honolulu.

It was then that Pasha Hawaii came to the rescue. Pasha Hawaii normally ships cars, boats, and other cargo from San Diego to Hawaii every two weeks, but it does not have a passenger vessel. Roth contacted Pasha Hawaii, which has shipped several Transpac boats in the past, and told a spokeswoman Cochran's story.

“;Michael gave me a call, and he knew it was a long shot but he wondered if there was any possibility of getting Joe passage,”; said Joelle Vossbrink, of Pasha Hawaii.

Vossbrink spent two weeks getting approval from the Coast Guard, Pasha's insurance company and the ship's captain, who offered the Cochrans his stateroom for the five-day trip.

“;Everyone else we spoke to said no passengers,”; said Roth. “;There was just no other way to get him home. We're in Pasha's debt.”;

Vossbrink said Pasha Hawaii had never been asked to do anything like this before, but everything worked. “;I'm really glad that we got to do this. We were asked for humanitarian assistance, and that's one of the things that we firmly believe in, to give help whenever we can.”;

The Cochrans will arrive in Honolulu on Monday on Pasha Hawaii's MV Jean Anne. So far Roth estimates that 50 to 100 people will be there to welcome Cochran back home. Although people cannot walk up to the dock, he welcomes people who know the Cochrans to come down and show their support. Cochran should exit the ship at 8:30 p.m., and supporters will meet around Pier 32-33 where the ship will dock.