Fishing charter makes dramatic rescue of stranded boaters off Kona Coast

Three people were plucked from the sea Sunday morning after their boat overturned at a popular fishing spot about four miles off the Kona Coast.

A fishing charter first helped rescue the stranded boaters, then took about two hours to tow the smaller vessel back to shore.

John Stephenson and his family were on their morning fishing tour when they spotted something in the water — an overturned boat in the water with coolers and equipment scattered about.

“First thing we thought of was someone is really in trouble,” Stephenson said.

He then alerted his boat captain Jean Nogues. “I just see the boat that was flipped over,” Nogues said, “and I’m looking for people, and it wasn’t until I got closer that I could see the three guys hanging on.”

“As we came toward them, they were waving their hands in the water,” Stephenson said, “and we could see that there were three people clinging to the back of the boat.”

It was a woman and two men adrift in the water. Within minutes, the woman was pulled onto Nogues’s boat.

“There were lots of boats around but no one did anything,” Nogues said, “like no one saw it happen. I guess we were the first guys to see it.”

Stephenson added that “they said they had a problem with the boat. They were taking on water, they were trying to bail it, and the swells were really, really big. … A roller wave came and just knocked them right over.”

Once everyone was out of the water, the men decided to try towing the damaged boat back to shore, though it took them a while.

“It was super rough, like a really bad current was ripping,” Nogues said. “When we got back in the calm water, I ended up flipping their boat over with my boat, just kinda pulling it with ropes.”

Luckily, no one was hurt. Nogues says he’s just happy his vessel was in the right place at the right time. He added that someone from his crew actually knew one of the people that needed to be rescued. The trio was very experienced in the water and it just turned out they suffered some bad luck.

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