Hawai'i Aloha (HA)
Posted on May 3, 2018 by Smith
It was me (Zachary), Captain Ann, Alyssa, Aaron and Mariah. Two guys three women. We were heading out on the Hawai’i Aloha (HA) because we heard that there would be a big storm coming, but it would be over quick meaning supposedly by sunset. We got out there about 1200. I admitted to Alyssa to not want to be out on the boat tonight as I was exhausted and still trying to recover from the last year of work on the same boat.
The swells started to get larger and larger and closer and closer as time went on and pretty soon our mooring lines were chaffing through the chafe gear. We were taking a lot of water over the bow. I cut my finger trying to make some more chafe gear. Aaron got his finger caught between the mooring line and the diamond plate on the bow. his finger was bleeding but not too bad. Ann had nearly fallen off as she was tying a line when it departed and she fell backwards.
We decided it would be best and safer if we departed from our mooring before our lines did. We started a watch schedule of 2 hours each and Ann would be on stand-by. I had the first 2 hour watch, Mariah came next, Alyssa after, then Aaron and back to me. During that Ann and I were figuring a plan for the night. We decided to head north as that was the direction of the swells and the wind. It made for a smoother ride. and would be safest. Then later on in the morning we would turn around as that is what the swell was forecast to do, and make way back to Kona.
It was about 0300 at this point. I was on watch late due to some engine troubles. I got up to the helm just in time for a huge wave of about 25 ft. Ann then said that that was the biggest wave she had seen all night. From there I was pretty on edge, as I did feel the weather getting worse. we were having wind gusts up to 50-70 knots from what I heard. I went right to bed after helping Mariah look for her water bottle for about ten minutes. Aaron went to bed. Alyssa was in bed and Ann was laying down but awake.
I woke up about 0525 because water was leaking through the port light and the ceiling. It was pretty annoying as I did not want to be on the boat that night in the first place. The queen size mattress I was sleeping on was completely soaked except for a very small portion. It was already hard to sleep as the waves were making it really hard to. the sea was pounding and it would shake the entire boat. I went up to the helm and asked where the towels were,then I went back to sleep.
About 15 minutes later around 0540 we hit a big pounder and it felt like we hit a wall. The next thing I knew we were rolling over. We rolled once completely and then half of one so that we were upside down for about 10 seconds. I remember being on my hands and knees on what was the ceiling with this soaked heavy duty queen sized mattress on my back thinking “if this doesn’t roll back over I am not getting out of here alive.” The Hawai’i Aloha then righted herself.
it was still pitch dark out. I knew we had to get off the boat as soon as possible as now it was no longer safe to stay on board. I somehow had my headlamp on and figured I must have slept with it on. I got out of my bed expecting the whole deck above me to be wiped out. I climbed out of bed and made my way up the steps right as water came pouring in. I remember having a thought of being scared but I realized that I couldn’t be at the time. I could hear Mariah screaming out if anyone was there. i was yelling back. When I got up there and saw that Captain Ann was there with a big gash in her knee. Her eyes were also red and I could see that she was in shock. Mariah had blood gushing out of her nose and there was blood on the toe rail. The ceiling to the salon was collapsed on the starboard side. The windows and the bulkhead all the way up to the helm was gone. The port side by the stairs had the window broken and water was pouring in on top of Ann as if that end of the boat was maybe 2 feet out of the water. it was better than I was expecting.
I knew Ann need medical attention immediately as she was in shock and her eyes were red from the blow to the head she had taken. She took a few seconds to respond to my question of if she had seen Aaron or Alyssa. I went down to Aaron’s room to see if I could get to him since he was closest. The door handle didn’t budge and water was pouring in through the port hole in the head. I went back up to see if I could find Alyssa and was asking Ann if she knew if the EPIRB was deployed and if she got out a mayday. She said no to the mayday and she didn’t know about the EPIRB. I went to go look for Alyssa and the EPIRB when I heard her respond to Mariah and my’s yelling. Alyssa had said that the EPIRB wasn’t in it’s bracket (which was mounted high on the outside port aft salon bulkhead). Which meant that it should be deployed as it said on it’s label (Out of bracket and in the water). I asked Ann if she thought it wise to go back down to Aaron’s room. She said yes. I went back down and at that point the water was up to my knees in the head. I tried the door again but it still wouldn’t budge so I yelled and started banging on the door. I didn’t hear a response and I didn’t feel like I could stay there and get out safely. I left his door knowing I might not see him again.
I made my way up to the deck. As I was going I grabbed the 1 million lumen flashlight. We were making our ways to the life raft which had somehow stayed by the starboard bow of the boat. It had deployed as it was supposed to. Mariah jumped in then Alyssa and then I did. Ann was holding the line for us to jump into the life raft. As soon as I landed we got hit by a wave that knocked Ann into the ocean. That wave also collapsed the canopy for the life raft and we had to bail the water out. I could see Ann was in the water making her way to us. I remember seeing the boat and having concern about the anchor hitting us or if the boat rolled. I climbed under the canopy in effort to dump all the water out by pushing underneath. It worked. I was then working on getting the canopy and entrances secured while Alyssa and Mariah helped Ann in. I had Alyssa take care of Ann’s knee and Mariah was bailing water. I was still adjusting the canopy.
We were continually be pounded by waves for about 10 minutes. All we could hear was the sound of the incoming wave. We had rope inside that was attached to the edges to keep from being tossed. I told them to only hold on with hands and not link your arms to it. The waves at this point were cresting and would crash down on top of us. If your arms are linked you could dislocate a shoulder or two. Which would make a crappy situation that much worse. The raft would fold in half every few waves because it was so rough and we would bonk heads.
At 0600 we could see shore. I was flashing S.O.S. while we were out there. I saw the Hawai’i Aloha washed up on shore. The life raft had flares. We decided to launch all four of the parachute flares in succession because we realized we were getting close to the rocks. Which wouldn’t be good because it’s 20 ft waves crashing us up on the rocks. With that in mind I launched all four parachute flares. We had started singing songs. Alyssa started to panic. I gave her a hug and gently reminded her to breath in through her nose and out her mouth. She and Ann had thermal suits on to keep warm as they were getting cold. Mariah was doing well. I had no injuries except a cut on my hand from launching the first flare. Somehow something shot back from it and hit my hand pretty hard. We started shouting at the lights we could see on shore about 20 minutes later. They could see us and were flashing their lights at us.
10 minutes later the Four Seasons Resort zodiac was in the water on it’s way to pick us up. We got Ann out then Alyssa, then Mariah, and then me. we got to shore and I told them there was still one more left on board. We ran over to the boat but it was really rough and unsafe to try to go out there at that time. That’s when the Fire Department got there and that’s when I directed them to where on the boat I thought Aaron was. One of the lifeguards let me borrow his jacket. I was still shivering but I knew I could warm up so I didn’t go with Ann, Alyssa and Mariah to the hospital. I had to tell the story of what happened about 8 times while I was there. Once they were working on digging into Aaron’s room, I called my parents on the police officer’s phone. that’s when I finally broke down and started sobbing. I kept hoping they would pull Aaron out any second or that he would walk out in a daze saying “What happened?”. The local resort gave me some food but my body couldn’t keep it down. The police officer gave me an extra shirt. and the hotel also gave me some flip flops.
Some friends came and picked me up and after crying a few more times I took a nice long warm shower. We had no major injuries. They never did find Aaron. But his shorts somehow made it onto shore a few weeks later. At least four of us had survived, and Aaron wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. This whole incident has reached so many that it is exactly what he would’ve wanted.
The picture has the four survivors starting from the left Mariah, Alyssa, Ann and (Top Right)Zach. Rhonda on the far right was crew and would have been on board had she not had some medical duties to attend to.
Our organizations website can be found here:
As well as our blog concerning the incident here:
Words of wisdom
Always be aware of your whereabouts.
Thank you note
Thank you ACR.
Hawai'i Aloha (HA)