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Coast Guard tows disabled sailboat to Lahaina

By Star-Advertiser Staff

LAST UPDATED: 9:54 p.m. HST, Jun 18, 2011

The Coast Guard towed a disabled sailboat Saturday that lost its steering controls northeast of Maui.

Three men and one woman are on the vessel, the Eleu, and are in good condition with food, water and safety equipment, the Coast Guard said in a news release. Conditions were reported to be 20-knot winds with 7-foot seas.

The crew of the Eleu was sailing from Marine del Ray in Los Angeles to Ko Olina when they lost the ability to steer the 46-foot vessel, the Coast Guard said. A crewmember used a satellite phone to call for help Friday afternoon.

The Coast Guard launched a HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Air Station Barbers Point at 5 p.m. Friday and the Cutter Kittiwake from Honolulu soon after. The aircrew found the sailboat via its distress radio beacon and stayed on scene for about two hours. The Coast Guard’s operations center maintained regular communication with the Eleu after the aircraft left.

The Kittiwake reached the vessel about 5 a.m. Saturday 118 miles northeast of Maui and began towing the Eleu to Lahaina Harbor.

The Coast Guard urges mariners to maintain functioning communication equipment on board their vessels and to file a float plan with someone who will follow up if they don’t return as planned.

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