Lost board, life saved

  • Contributed by Patrick Barton

    Patrick Barton

Two lives down and who knows how many to go.

Patrick Barton survived a lightning strike in Hanalei in 2017 and, mostly recently, survived having to abandon his windsurfing board near Poipu when the boom broke.

“If I would have stuck with the board it would have taken me out,” he said Friday afternoon. “That would have been the end of me.”

Barton said he is the owner of a white windsurfing board found Wednesday drifting a half mile off of Port Allen.

Coast Guard officials said they got a call about 8:50 a.m. from the master of a commercial diving vessel, Explorer 10, who said they found the windsurfing board “adrift with no sign of the owner.”

They issued an urgent broadcast notice to mariners and launched a 45-foot response boat from Lihue to conduct a search of the area, but failed to find anyone missing a board, and there were no reports of a missing person.

Barton said he was surprised when he saw a picture of his board and a short story about it on The Garden Island’s front page on Friday. The story included a number for anyone to call if they knew anything about the board or its owner.

He called, thus ending the mystery about the owner. But, unfortunately, he didn’t get the board back. He said he was told it hadn’t actually been picked up.

“I don’t know where it is now,” Barton said, laughing. “But I’m hoping somebody finds it.”

He was windsurfing Tuesday and having a wonderful time when the boom attached to the board broke.

“I was ripping it apart,” he said. “Nice tubes, getting some good air.”

Then came trouble.

“I was in a mess. I was in a bad rip,” he said.

The current was pulling him and the board out, Barton said, so he had to abandon it, swim until he was free of the rip, and then swim to shore.

Rips, he said, are dangerous, and his experience has taught him to stay calm.

“When you get out into it, and it happens to you, it’s a life-changing experience,” he said.

Another such experience was on Nov. 1, 2017, when a lightning strike zapped him.

During a major storm in Hanalei, he took refuge at one of his favorite surf spots — Pine Trees — and parked under the ironwood trees for shelter.

“Rain was coming down like you couldn’t believe, and at about 7 a.m. everything stopped,” Barton told TGI in a previous interview. “Then all of the sudden, boom.”

Lightning slammed into the ironwood tree next to his car, arcing and enclosing the vehicle.

“All I remember is the loudest boom I’ve ever heard, and it was bright, so bright,” Barton said at the time. “It was so loud and it hit so hard that it knocked me out and I got a concussion.”

He’s recovered, but not completely, and continues to deal with health issues as a result.

“That is an experience I’m still having to deal with,” he said.

While he was OK on his recent encounter with a life-and-death situation, he was disappointed to lose about $3,000 worth of gear, and still hopes to get the board back.

“It doesn’t come cheap,” he said.

Life’s great adventures never do.

  1. p December 1, 2019 8:58 am Reply

    Good story, great ending.

  2. numilalocal December 1, 2019 10:27 am Reply

    ID Stickers for watercraft are available at the Coast Guard Station and DOBOR in Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor. Having one of these, or at least the owner’s contact info on the board, would have made finding the owner possible.

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