POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 22, 2011
HILO » An ill-fated sailing trip that ended with an injured man being rescued by a Hilo-bound cruise ship hasn't dampened the rescued man's love for being at sea.
The ordeal earlier this month left Phillip Johnson, 62, with cracked ribs, fractured vertebrae and other injuries. Yet he plans to continue pleasure boating and even wants to book a cruise to Hilo on the ship that rescued him, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Friday.
"We had good weather for 2,000 miles," Johnson, a Navy veteran, told the newspaper. "That was just a freak accident that happened. If you get a flat tire, you don't say you'll never drive again."
Johnson, a nephew and a friend were delivering a yacht from San Diego to Hawaii when the 48-foot boat began to have problems with its generators and batteries. Rough waters and heavy winds knocked the boat over 30 degrees, sending him flying across the galley and leaving him too injured to operate the boat, which was drifting without power 700 nautical miles off Hawaii island, he recalled.
The Coast Guard rescue center in Honolulu put out a call to ships in the area, and the Celebrity Century responded. The ship's captain, Konstantinos Patsoulas, turned around the 815-foot cruise ship and reached the stricken yacht in 12 hours.
Passengers on the cruise ship watched as Johnson and the others were rescued from the rough waters.
"They saved our lives," Johnson said. "You simply can't say enough thank-yous."
The sailboat remained in the Pacific, abandoned at sea.