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Hawaii, Hurricane Julio: Stranded sailors describe Perfect Storm rescue

By Star Advertiser — last modified Aug 15, 2014 08:44 AM
Three grateful California sailors, whose sailboat was ravaged by a "perfect storm" of high winds and seas from Hurricane Julio, arrived safely in Honolulu before dawn Tuesday morning, after being rescued by a Matson container ship. This news story from the Star Advertiser.

Published: 2014-08-13 23:00:00
Topics: Safety and Medical
Countries: Hawaii , USA

Hawaii, Hurricane Julio: Stranded sailors describe Perfect Storm rescue

© USCG

Star Advertiser Story

Ben Neely, captain of the Walkabout sailboat, his son Lee, 23, and Lee's friend Mike Vanway, who turns 24 Wednesday, described a harrowing ordeal as they stood on the solid ground of Pier 52 at Honolulu Harbor.

"It kind of look like the 'Perfect Storm,'" said Ben Neely, referring to the 2000 movie. He said they were probably close to the eye with winds up to 90 miles per hour.

"As the storm was passing, it kept sucking us in with it," Neely, 61, said.

He expressed gratitude to the container ship Manukai's crew, who diverted 200 miles to rescue the three men Monday, and to Matson and the U.S. Coast Guard, which coordinated the rescue.

He said he was trying to wait-out Hurricane Julio but with each storm track update he received, the storm kept moving "further and further east."

The three men, all from Stockton, Calif., were stranded in the sailboat north of Hawaii for about 24 hours after a huge wave swamped the boat and broke the hatch, causing the boat to start filling with water.

"I am not a real nervous person until the galley was half-filled with water," said Neely, who estimated that the wave was about 50 feet and the boat was leaning about 90 degrees after being hit.

He said at one point he was slammed into the ship's galley, hitting his chest and losing his breath. One of the other two men, fearing that Neely was more seriously injured, radioed a distress call that the captain may be suffering a heart attack. The elder Neely said the confusion was understandable considering the chaos.

The Manukai, with captain John Blomingdale leading a crew of 22, rescued them Monday morning.

"I am thrilled it went as well as it did," Bloomingdale said.

Ben Neely said they tried to board the Manukai Sunday night but conditions were too rough so they waited it out until the next morning. He said other than some bumps and bruises, the Walkabout's crew was fine.

Continue reading this news report at http://www.staradvertiser.com/

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