LIHUE — A Kapaa fisherman was rescued after he became stranded at sea when his boat engine failed on Tuesday morning.
The US Coast Guard responded to a distress call at 9:45 from Tommy Rozsa, who was drifting about 5 miles offshore from Anahola.
His 22-foot Glas-Ply boat, constructed of fiberglass and plywood, lost function of its 150 horsepower Mercury engine. The seas were 8 to 10 feet while winds gusted to 30 knots.
“It was rough seas, only a couple tuna, small ones,” Rozsa said. “I got a little seasick, because it was so rough. It was actually rocking with the rails going underwater at some point.”
Rozsa called the Coast Guard as well as his wife, who provided the location coordinates through his cell phone.
“I drifted for a couple miles, but it definitely got rougher,” Rozsa said. “They were there pretty quick after I called. It was a lot faster than the other time a few years back.”
After drifting for nearly two hours while the boat took on water through a small leak, the Coast Guard was finally able to locate the vessel.
“By the time we got to him, he drifted about two to three miles,” said boatswain mate, Ben Gardner, a third-class petty officer who was part of the four-man Coast Guard rescue crew. “It was pretty rough out there, so we took him off his boat while we were towing just for safety reasons.”
The disabled recreational fishing boat was towed for about four hours to the Coast Guard station at Nawiliwili Harbor.
The small vessel, named Thannyblu, was greeted at the dock around 3:30 p.m. by Rozsa’s wife and nine-year-old son, Nathanael, who the boat is named after.
The boy was delighted to see his dad, waving his arms excitedly as he approached.
“He had a slow leak, so if he was out there for too much longer is could have gotten worse pretty quickly,” Gardner said. “We didn’t want it to get worse, thankfully nobody got hurt.”
The boat’s 2012 Mercury four-stroke engine had more than 1,500 hours and may have had problems with the fuel pump, Rozsa said.
“I just had fuel problems,” the 54-year-old Rozsa said. “I don’t know if I got bad gas or something. That motor runs like a top usually. But I’m glad to be safe, I got a wife and kid to take care of.”
The Coast Guard conducts around 30 to 40 ocean rescues on Kauai every year, Gardner said.
“We check to make sure he has all his required gear and safety equipment. If he does, he’s good to go,” Gardner said. “With engine trouble, there’s nothing illegal. Obviously he can’t go back out until he gets it fixed.”
“Checking the safety stuff is just to prevent anything further from happening,” he added. “Thankfully he has his flares and all that stuff, so if something did happen worse than what happened today, he could have gotten help some other way.”
Rozsa, a construction worker and home builder, has been an avid fisherman and boater for more than 40 years. He understands the importance of having proper safety equipment and checking weather updates.
“Just make sure you’ve got an EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon) on your boat if you go out here fishing, that’s the most important thing you can carry,” Rozsa said. “In case you fall over you better be wearing one, cause you’re gone otherwise. They’re not going to be able to find you in that current.”