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Mahalo for helping paddler in distress

December 22, 2011
The Maui Weekly

At Polynesian Shores on Nov. 15, we were all viewing the sunset on the deck when we spotted out in the Pailolo Channel a paddle boarder lying down, resting (?), then sitting up. He was sitting up-but not standing up-and paddling, a warning sign to us all.

We all were in observation mode now, and finally, the party, from one-quarter to three-quarters-of-a-mile out now, started slowly paddling into the trade winds (a common mistake) and not going southeast, using the trades and currents to sail back to any shoreline.

We figured that it was time to call someone.

Being a weekend fisherman at times, invited on buddy's boats in West Maui, I just had my Red Duck Bass Pro Shop hip pack with my handheld VHS.

I called to the sailboats in general, and most of them were already Lahaina-side. However, in the distance we viewed a weekend trailer boat coming in from the north, and I called out, thinking it was Capt. Johnny on the Opaka-lips boat. During lunch at home, I viewed him motoring north.

The boat called back on emergency channel 16 VHS, and the captain said he knew Johnny and that Johnny was still fishing up north.

His boat was called, I think, Keawe. In any event, he came in, found the paddler and drove the Maui visitor back a mile or so to S-Turns, so the visitor could get back to the Sands of Kahana where he was staying. I am proud of everybody.

I then radioed the charter sailboat, Shangri La, and thanked him for standing by and monitoring the situation; that the rescue team of the trailer boat Keawe had made the rescue; and all was even better for our evening sunset observations.

Big hugs go out to all, especially the rescue team.

Erin A. Whattam Kahana



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