Coast Guard to
Crews are expected to resume
efforts to find the missing
Beverley Pang sat near the blue, calm waters of Haleiwa Boat Harbor yesterday afternoon awaiting word from rescuers searching for her boyfriend of 14 years, fisherman Roy Takatsuki.
"I'm still in shock," said Pang, who last talked to Takatsuki Friday morning as he was leaving Haleiwa Harbor. "I got up crying this morning."
The angler's 18-foot Boston Whaler was found idling off Kauai's North Shore Saturday morning with no one aboard. After searching Saturday and yesterday, a Coast Guard C-130 Hercules airplane and HH-65 Dolphin helicopter were expected to resume their search for Takatsuki at first light today.
The Coast Guard, Honolulu Fire Department and fishermen in private boats went over thousands of miles of ocean off Oahu's North Shore yesterday searching for Takatsuki. Coast Guard cutters searched through the night for the missing fisherman, "covering as much water as possible," said Petty Officer Brooksann Anderson.
The 57-year-old, of Kauai's Wailua Homesteads, participated in the three-day North Shore Hanapa'a Jackpot Fishing Tournament at the Haleiwa Boat Harbor.
On Friday, Takatsuki went out on his third day of fishing in the contest and never returned, prompting a search that now extends from Kahuku to Kaena points and out into the Kauai Channel.
The Coast Guard's search area yesterday covered more than 6,000 square miles, which is about 10 times the size of Kauai.
"That's a gigantic area," said Lt. j.g. John Titchen, who is directing the Coast Guard's search for Takatsuki. "It's almost like searching for a coconut in the middle of the ocean."
Takatsuki is the second fisherman to go missing in two weeks.
On June 19 the Coast Guard called off the search for 61-year-old Richard Shiroma. His 23-foot fishing boat was found empty June 16 in shallow waters off Kahuku's Turtle Bay Resort.
Much of the search area that the Coast Guard covered for Shiroma is now being scoured for Takatsuki, Titchen said.
He also said rescuers are hopeful they will find Takatsuki alive.
"We're always maintaining hope while we're searching," Titchen said. "We want to find him."
Pang said she and Takatsuki, immediate past president of the Contractors' Association of Kauai, were invited by Kauai County Mayor Bryan Baptiste to be part of a 13-day friendship tour to Okinawa and Japan in September.
"There's a suit waiting for him," said Pang, who is a community response specialist for the mayor's office.
Baptiste called Takatsuki "a good man with a big heart."
"We are hoping for the best," he said.
Four boats from the Waianae and Haleiwa boat harbors assisted yesterday in the search for Takatsuki. The Fire Department's helicopter also searched the shoreline from Kaena Point to Kahuku until about 2 p.m.
For now, Takatsuki's loved ones say they can do nothing but wait for word and hope for the safe return of a son, boyfriend and father.
"We're very concerned and worried," said Takatsuki's mother, Doris. "I'm hoping something good will turn out."
Takatsuki's son, Abraham, was to arrive on Kauai from Las Vegas last night.
Sitting on the harbor yesterday, Pang remembered Takatsuki as a giving man, someone who "never sold anything."
She said her boyfriend always gave her first billing "on whatever was in that fish box."
"Roy is a survivor," said Ron Hill, vice president of the North Shore Hanapa'a Club and Takatsuki's close friend. "He'll make it. If at all possible, he'll make it."
Coast Guard and family members said Takatsuki has a heart condition, for which he was on medication. Otherwise, though, the fisherman is a strong swimmer in good health.
Titchen said the weather for yesterday's search was similar to conditions through the weekend, with tradewinds on the open water at about 20 miles per hour and 4- to 6-foot surf. Titchen also said a white object found in the water Saturday night turned out to be unrelated to the search.
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FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
In the Search and Rescue Command Center of the Coast Guard Base on Sand Island yesterday, SAR Coordinator Petty Officer Justin Acosta paid attention to the monitor showing search information for missing fisherman Roy Takatsuki.
Isle officials stress ‘life’
of life jacket
When Coast Guard crews searched Roy Takatsuki's boat Saturday for clues on why the missing fisherman apparently fell overboard, they found all the equipment necessary for a safe voyage.
The only problem: Takatsuki's two life jackets were still on the craft.
Richard Shiroma, a second missing fisherman whose boat was found empty in shallow waters off the North Shore two weeks ago, also was not wearing a life jacket when he fell overboard, Coast Guard officials said.
"They can buy every piece of safety equipment," said Arlen Walsten, a boating safety instructor and fishing equipment sales executive, "but it doesn't matter if they don't wear it."
Wearing a life jacket is one of the easiest safety precautions recreational sailors can take and can greatly increase a boater's chances of surviving in the water, said Coast Guard Lt. j.g. John Titchen, who is heading up his agency's search for Takatsuki.
But several anglers say they do not like to wear life jackets while fishing, calling the safety device constrictive and inconvenient.
Others said the same about wearing a fishing harness, which can prevent boaters from falling into the water.
"You can't fish with one (a harness)," said longtime fisherman Ron Hall, who is also the vice president of the North Shore Hanapa'a Club. "I don't know any one of these guys that wear that."
Gabriel Gonsalves, 54, said he has been fishing for 30 years and has never worn a harness while fishing.
"It gets in the way," he said.
Walsten said news of Shiroma and Takatsuki might prompt more anglers to start wearing life jackets on boats.
"Now the reports have gotten closer to home," said Walsten, who is vice president of sales and marketing for Pacific Ocean Producers. "People are thinking more with a different approach and attitude that it can happen to them."
Fisherman Al Bento agreed. "We know the dangers," he said. "After what happened, now you have to start taking more precautions."
Bento, 64, said he usually does not fish alone.
But if he does, he is sure to wear a harness. "If you wear the right ones," he said, "it's not inconvenient."
Other safety equipment fishermen should have in their boats are radios, flares, strobe and signaling lights, reflective tape and cell phones, Titchen said.
Coast Guard Lt. Col. Todd Offutt said fishermen can also buy a signaling beacon that can be affixed to a wristwatch or life jacket. The device, he said, aids rescuers and "helps us take the 'search' out of 'search and rescue.'"
Star-Bulletin reporter Mary Vorsino contributed to this report.