10 rescued off Oahu after sailboat loses power near Makaha

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Nearly a dozen people aboard a sailboat in waters off Makaha had to be towed to shore on Saturday night after the ship’s captain reported a loss of engine power.

The Honolulu Fire Department responded to a 911 call from a boater in distress who arrived at 8:13 p.m. Saturday and dispatched four units of 12 people to shore near Lahilahi Point.

Upon arrival at 8:25 p.m., firefighters struggled to find the sailboat, which had no working marine radio or navigation lights due to a power outage. It also did not have an emergency position beacon on board, which forced HFD to rely on geolocation coordinates from the 911 caller’s cell phone.

As the department’s Rescue 2 boat stood ready to be launched and searched from the water, its Air 1 helicopter conducted an aerial search and confirmed the location of the stricken vessel at 9 p.m. after spotting several flashlights from cell phone in the water about a mile and a half offshore.

Using Air 1’s searchlight as a visual marker, Rescue 2 traveled to the location of the disabled sailboat and made contact with the vessel and its captain at 9:18 p.m. Rescue specialists verified that none of the 10 people on board were not injured, then attached a bridle and tow cables to bring the sailboat back to shore.

According to HFD, the sailboat was towed to Waianae Boat Harbour, where it arrived safe and sound at 10:30 p.m.

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