Container ship set to rescue sailors stranded because of Hurricane Julio off Hawaii coast

Associated Press

A container ship crew is trying to position itself in a way that doesn't knock over a sailboat it is trying to rescue from waters roiled by Hurricane Julio off the Hawaii coast.

Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Gene Maestas said Monday morning that the weather has improved and the container ship is trying to block the sailboat from the wind.

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Maestas says the three people aboard the 42-foot sailboat Walkabout got into trouble while sailing from California to Hawaii. The sailors sent a message for help Saturday morning after the boat became disabled and took on water.

The Matson Inc. container ship Manukai reached them Saturday night but had to wait for conditions for improve before evacuating the stranded sailors.

No information was immediately available about the sailors.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A container ship reached a sailboat stranded in waters roiled by Hurricane Julio about 400 miles off the Hawaii coast, the Coast Guard said Monday.

Operations Specialist Andrew Lincoln said that crews are waiting until dawn to evacuate the three people on board the stricken sailboat. He says performing the rescue before first light, in the midst of rough weather, would be too dangerous.

"The seas were really bad and it's kind of windy so they didn't want to do it in the dark," he said.

The Coast Guard says the sailors aboard the 42-foot sailboat Walkabout sent a message around 7 a.m. Saturday requesting help after the boat became disabled and took on water. One of the hatches blew away, and onboard pumps couldn't keep up with the flooding. The vessel's life raft was also blown overboard. The container ship Manukai reached the Walkabout around 10 p.m. that night.

Lincoln, who is helping coordinate the rescue, said the stranded sailors would climb aboard a life raft lowered to them, then float over to the container ship.

"If seas were calm they'd pull up to the sailing vessel and (the three sailors) would climb up what's called a Jacob's ladder," he said. "But it's really rough out there so if (the Manukai) did that they'd end up running over that sailing vessel."

Lincoln says Julio has passed through the area, but it has left behind gusting winds and sea swells. A Coast Guard C-130 will head out to monitor the rescue.