Tuesday, July 20, 1999

Without radio
equipment, fishermen
lucky to be found

Lost at sea for three days, the
three Oahu men are now
home, tired but fine

Star-Bulletin staff


Three Oahu fishermen lost at sea for three days were reunited with their families this morning after being rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard.

According to rescuers and family members, the men were tired, sunburned and dehydrated, but in good shape otherwise.

They were all sleeping today at their homes and weren't available for comment.

They failed to return from a fishing trip that began at 5 a.m. Saturday from Hickam Air Force Base Marina.

They were rescued last night about 50 miles off Kauai and their 17-foot fishing boat was towed back to Hickam Harbor at 3:30 a.m this morning.

Coast Guard photo by Eric Hedaa, Special to the Star-Bulletin
The Coast Guard helps rescue the crew of an overdue 17-foot
fishing boat south of Kauai. The three men on board were identified
as Kurt J. Schweitzer, 34; Francis N. Stevenson, 30; and Brian Takafuji,
31. The boat left Hickam Harbor on Saturday morning, and was found
yesterday morning. The Coast Guard helped repair the boat's engine,
and a cutter towed it back to Oahu this morning. The crew had no
radio or emergency beacon. A cell phone they carried was
of no use because of the distance.

"There was no way to seek shelter; they had no cover, " said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer David Santos. "It's hard on you, especially when you're in the middle of nowhere with the sun on you."

About 7:30 yesterday morning, a Coast Guard C-130 aircraft located the three Oahu men -- Kurt Schweitzer, 34; Francis Stevenson, 30; and Brian Takafuji, 31 -- all in good condition.

"Since we didn't really have a clear idea of where they were, and we didn't have any communications with them, when you consider that and the fact that we found them, it's pretty miraculous," Santos said.

Santos had some advice for boaters:

"If you go out on the water, you really should have a radio, should have the proper safety equipment which should include an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) if you're going to go way out to sea," he said.

"The third thing (needed) is some boating safety education."

After the Coast Guard Cutter rendezvoused with the fishing boat, Coast Guard crew members repaired a broken fuel hose on the drifting vessel.

A Coast Guard helicopter, a Hawaii Army National Guard C-26 aircraft, six Civil Air Patrol aircraft and the C-130 were involved in the search.

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