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Sailboat caught in Hurricane Julio

By Gary T. Kubota

LAST UPDATED: 12:07 a.m. HST, Aug 11, 2014

Hurricane Julio may be fast departing the Hawaiian Islands, but it posed an extreme hazard Sunday for a drifting sailboat with three people aboard some 400 miles northeast of Oahu.

The Coast Guard said Sunday that the 42-foot vessel Walkabout, sailing from Stockton, Calif., was disabled and taking on water in 30-foot seas.

The crew initially faced hurricane winds of 92 to115 mph, but the winds dropped to about 45 mph, the Coast Guard said.

The vessel's lifeboat and a hatch cover were blown away, and the crew was using a bilge pump to remove water entering one of the hatches, the Coast Guard said.

The crew was unable to retrieve a replacement life raft and pump dropped by an HC-130 Hercules airplane crew from Barbers Point on Sunday afternoon, the Coast Guard said, and another airplane crew was sent to try another drop.

The second airplane arrived at 7 p.m. Sunday and was expected to remain with the distressed vessel until the 661-foot container ship arrived to assist in the rescue.

The Manukai was diverted to assist in the rescue and was expected to arrive on the scene sometime Sunday night, the Coast Guard said.

At 7:15 a.m. Sunday officials with the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Honolulu received notification from the International Emergency Response Coordination Center in Texas that an alert message was received from Walkabout requesting Coast Guard assistance.

The rescue center diverted a National Hurricane Center plane, Teal 76, from inside Hurricane Julio to locate the vessel and establish VHF radio communications.

At 10:49 a.m. Teal 76 reported mayday calls being broadcast from Walkabout.

The first HC-130 Hercules airplane crew left Barbers Point at 11:10 a.m. to deliver a life raft and relieve Teal 76.

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