A container ship crew yesterday rescued three men who were stranded in a sailboat off the Hawaiian Islands for about 24 hours as their vessel was battered by Hurricane Julio's 30-foot waves and 115mph winds. The sailors from the 42-foot Walkabout made it onto the Maston Inc. container ship yesterday morning and were in good condition, according to the US Coast Guard. Crew members from the Matson—who had made it to the sailboat the night before but had to wait till dawn to make the rescue—positioned the massive container ship so it wouldn't knock over the Walkabout, then tied a rope around a life raft and sent it to the sailboat, a petty officer for the Coast Guard says. The sailors got in the raft and the container ship "reeled them in, essentially." The sailors then climbed a 30-foot ladder up to the ship.
The Coast Guard said it received the mens' message for help Sunday morning after the Walkabout became disabled during its trip from California to Hawaii and started taking on water about 400 miles northeast of Oahu. The storm was so fierce it ripped off one of the sailboat's hatches, broke its mast, and tossed its lifeboat overboard. The Coast Guard, which said it was too far away to send a helicopter, coordinated the rescue with the Matson, which was on its way from California to Honolulu to deliver goods. "Those are pretty much some of the worst conditions you could be in," another Coast Guard petty officer says. "The fact that they were rescued and there were no injuries reported—that's amazing." (Read more stranded ship stories.)