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Coast Guard searches for boat from Hilo in heavy seas northeast of isles

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The Coast Guard is searching for a missing mariner who issued a distress message Thursday morning by text via satellite.

Rimas Meleshyus transmitted a text to a friend 8:47 a.m. Thursday, saying, “I lost my life raft, in danger now.”

The Coast Guard is coordinating a search for the owner of the 24-foot sailboat about 944 miles northeast of the main Hawaiian islands.

Meleshyus left Hilo Feb. 9 on a solo voyage to San Francisco aboard the Pier Pressure.

An HC-130 Hercules aircraft was diverted at 10:32 a.m. to the boat’s last known position, roughly four hours away.

The Coast Guard asked the Federal Aviation Administration to alert aircraft passing through the area to look for any signs of distress.

Gale force winds and seas of 20 feet were reported at the last known position of the sailboat, the Coast Guard said.

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