Sailboat slams into Ahukini breakwater

  • Bill Buley / The Garden Island

    Alan Bertolino sits on the breakwater while his sailboat is pounded by surf into the rocks Friday afternoon at the Ahukini State Recreational Pier.

LIHUE — Two men were uninjured after their sailboat crashed into the breakwater at Ahukini State Recreational Pier Friday afternoon.

James Beardmore of Waimea said he and the boat’s owner, Alan Bertolino of Lihue, had traveled from Nawiliwili Harbor to the Ahukini area under sunny skies, where they dropped anchor.

When they later went to leave, as they were navigating around the jetty about 3:45 p.m., the engine on the 41-foot sailboat stalled.

“We were motoring out of the bay and lost the motor,” Beardmore said.

He said Bertolino tried to use the sails to steer clear of the breakwater wall, but the surf carried them into the rocks.

“He wasn’t able to get enough wind to stay up off the rocks,” Beardmore said. “He was trying to come about and tried to jibe, but by the time he could jibe he was already on top of the rocks.”

The men abandoned the sailboat as it was carried into the rocks and made their way to land.

Firefighters arrived to check on the accident and determined the men were OK. The Coast Guard was also called.

Bertolino said he was making calls to find a business to get the boat off the rocks and back to Nawiliwili Harbor.

“The boat is not so good,” Beardmore said. “It’s getting pounded on the rocks. It’s got holes in it.”

Bertolino, while glad to be safe, said he was “shaken” by what happened.

“Distraught a little bit,” he said. “I tried to sail out of it.”

Witnesses said it happened quickly and there didn’t seem to be much the men could have done to avoid the breakwater in the rough surf when the motor quit.

Shortly after the two men left with another person in a truck to recover and seek help with removing the boat, a bus with tourists rolled up. They quickly began taking pictures of the marooned sailboat.

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