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Gusty winds lead to rescue of boaters, paddlers

By Rosemarie Bernardo

LAST UPDATED: 7:22 p.m. HST, Dec 22, 2011

Fire rescue crews Wednesday responded to distress calls from boaters, canoe paddlers and kayakers blown out to sea by gusty winds. 

At about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, two men aboard a 12-foot tandem kayak ran into trouble off of Sand Island after they were blown a mile-and-a-half off shore. The Honolulu Fire Department's rescue helicopter spotted the men and Coast Guard assisted in bringing the kayakers back to shore, according to Honolulu Fire Spokesman Capt. Terry Seelig. 

At about 4:08 p.m. off of Pokai Bay, three of four six-man canoes with paddlers from a canoe club between ages 8 and 18 also faced challenges in waters off of Leeward Oahu. Seelig said one canoe flipped over and two other boats were blown about a mile-and-a-half off the bay. Ocean safety personnel, fire rescue and a good Samaritan responded and took several trips to bring the children back to shore and bring the canoes back in. There were no injuries. 

Five hours later, a man in a nine-foot inflatable boat went adrift off of East Oahu after his boat motor died. At about 9:33 p.m., the man boarded his boat at the bay to head to his sailboat moored off of Portlock Point. While in the water, the motor failed and the boat started to drift. He called 911 and reported that he was about a mile off of Niu Valley. At about 10 p.m., the rescue helicopter spotted the inflatable boat about two miles off of Aina Haina. Fire rescue picked up the boater and brought him to the Ala Wai Small Boat Harbor and drove him back to Hawaii Kai. 

Meteorologist Mike Cantin of the National Weather Service said strong winds are expected to subside by the holiday weekend. 

Wind advisories are issued by the National Weather Service when wind speeds reach  30 to 39 miles per hour with gusts up to 57 miles per hour. Though an advisory wasn't issued Wednesday, Cantin said, "It doesn't take wind advisory winds to blow you out."

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