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Man rescued at sea eager for Hawaii cruise

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 12:33 p.m. HST, Oct 21, 2011


HILO, Hawaii >> An ill-fated sailing trip that ended with an injured man being rescued by a Hilo-bound cruise ship hasn’t dampened his love for being at sea.

The ordeal earlier this month left Phillip Johnson, 62, with injuries that include cracked ribs and fractured vertebrae. 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 U.S. 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.”  

His troubles delivering a yacht from San Diego to Hawaii with his nephew and a friend began when the 48-foot boat had 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 navigate the boat, which was operating without power 700 nautical miles off Hawaii’s Big Island, he recalled. 

The U.S. Coast Guard in Honolulu put out a call to ships in the area and the Celebrity Century responded. The ship’s captain, Konstantinos Patsoulas, turned the 815-foot cruise ship around and arrived at the 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.”

Meanwhile the sailboat remained in the Pacific, abandoned at sea. 

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