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Federal and state agencies attempting to remove grounded sailboat near Hilo with incoming tide

  • COURTESY COAST GUARD The 63-foot Midway Island is seen where it grounded on the rocks at Hilo Bay.

    COURTESY COAST GUARD

    The 63-foot Midway Island is seen where it grounded on the rocks at Hilo Bay.

The U.S. Coast Guard said it is attempting today to refloat and move a 63-foot sailboat — Midway Island — that grounded on rocks at Hilo Bay.

The Coast Guard is working with the state and contractors to refloat the vessel on the incoming high tide, with hopes of moving it to a state-owned pier outside Wailoa Boat Harbor for further pollution mitigation efforts. The boat will not enter the harbor.

“The team is rigging the vessel for tow and will leverage the incoming high tide and building surf to coax the vessel off the seabed and into deeper water, before towing it 1.5 miles to the pier outside of normal traffic lanes,” said Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Russ Strathern, a pollution response expert, in a news release. “Crews will stand by to dewater if necessary and keep the vessel afloat mitigating the chance of sinking in Hilo Bay.”

Officials said 1,352 gallons of petroleum products, including marine diesel, lube, and hydraulic oil, and oily waste, were safely removed from the U.S.-flagged vessel, along with the batteries and household cleaners Thursday and Friday. Less than an estimated 40 gallons remain aboard.

The sailboat ran aground Feb. 3 on rocks northwest of Hilo Harbor after arriving from Los Angeles. The Hawaii County Fire Department airlifted the boater — described as an elderly man — to safety, although he declined transport to a hospital.

The Coast Guard asked that during the removal process the public to stay clear of the safety zone, which extends 100 yards in all directions from the boat, to prevent injury or impact to operations.

To date, there have been no reports of injuries, pollution, or impacted wildlife, the Coast Guard said. Weather on scene is favorable with clear skies, light winds, excellent visibility, and building surf.

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