Coast Guard goes to aid of two fishing boats in Gulf of Alaska

Posted: Friday, January 25, 2002

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) -- Conditions appeared to be easing slightly early Friday for two Washington state fishing boats after the crews reported a danger of capsizing in stormy weather, Coast Guard officials said.

Warmer temperatures and subsiding winds were reported in the Gulf of Alaska as rescue vessels headed for the 86-foot Miss Leona of Bellingham, Wash., and 75-foot Windjammer of Seattle, said Petty Officer Richard Patnaude in Juneau.

''The situation seems to have stabilized somewhat,'' Patnaude said. It's starting to warm up a little bit and the ice (on the vessels) is starting to melt.''

Crew members on the two troubled vessels reported winds of 70 to 80 mph, 40-foot seas and freezing spray that threatened to cause them to turn turtle from ice buildup late Thursday.

Early Friday, Patnaude said, the crew of the Coast Guard cutters Storis and Melon reported 20-foot seas and 35-knot winds. The Melon was expected to reach the Miss Leona on Friday afternoon, he added.

To reduce the spray and ice buildup, the Miss Leona was heading south, extending the time required for the two cutters and a freighter, the Boston Symphony, to make a rendezvous.

A large wave struck the wheelhouse Thursday, disabling the Miss Leona's long-range radio. A Coast Guard C-130 plane was flying above the fishing boat early Friday to maintain communications.

Fewer problems were reported with 75-foot Windjammer, which was headed west, the direction desired by the crew, at a slower than normal pace of 2-3 knots.

Both boats were reportedly headed for Sand Point, Alaska, for a cod fishery that opens later this month.

The Miss Leona's owner was listed as Omar Allinson of Bellingham. Steve Aarvik was listed as the owner of the Windjammer.

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