Group efffort saves life of local boater

The Kaua’i boating community pulled together Sunday afternoon when they rescued a local fisherman about eight miles offshore in the Hanalei Bay-Ha’ena area.

“It was a group effort and we weren’t going to give up till we found him,” said fisherman Kevin Yamase.

The search began when Yamase spotted the fishing boat owned by his friend heading straight to shore near Kalalau.

The two boats had been fishing near each other and communicating over the weekend so Yamase tried to establish contact and became concerned when he didn’t get a response over the radio or cell phone.

“By this time, I’m about a quarter-mile away from his boat. I glanced through the boat. I started getting nervous, I saw he wasn’t on the boat,” Yamase said.

He said he got on the CB to let all the other fishermen in the area know what was going on.

Approximately 15 Kaua’i boaters responded to Yamase’s call and started searching for the missing fisherman.

A crewmember from another boat The tracking function on the boat’s Global Positioning System showed a continual zigzag route that straightened out into a line headed for Kalalau. The boaters used the information to estimate a starting point for the search.

After a two to three-hour search, Kapa’a fisherman Kevin De Silva spotted him and pulled the fisherman out of the water. Considering the ordeal he had been through and the time he had spent in the water, the victim was in surprisingly good shape, De Silva said.

“Had he not had that tracking function on, it would have been a tough call to find where he was,” Yamase said. But even with that information, “he was found farther out than we thought.”

According to Fire Department Acting Battalion Chief Greg Morishige, a craft from Inter-Island Helicopters was used to search sunday for about two hours.

The fisherman said the rescue helicopter passed him about four times.

“It’s possible that we wouldn’t have found him because he’s just a speck in the ocean,” Morishige said.

Yamase said the Kaua’i fishing community will always rally together to help anyone in need, whether they know each other or not.

It’s not the first time he has been involved in a dramatic rescue. In Jan. 1997, Yamase rescued two O’ahu fishermen who were stranded at sea for 29 days on a life raft near Kaula Rock.

The County of Kaua’i will be billed $625 an hour for the two-hour search.

The rescued fisherman, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “I’m just thankful that everything turned out OK. I’m grateful for them (his fellow boaters) and we’re just happy everything turned out alright.”

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

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