Rescue saves 13 fishermen from plunge into Kachemak Bay

Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2007

 

  George Meeker, 85, of Homer, thanks the crew aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Roanoke Island for safe passage back to the Homer harbor after the 36-foot boat Meeker was fishing on capsized and sunk in Kachemak Bay. Photo by McKibben Jackinsky

George Meeker, 85, of Homer, thanks the crew aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Roanoke Island for safe passage back to the Homer harbor after the 36-foot boat Meeker was fishing on capsized and sunk in Kachemak Bay.

Photo by McKibben Jackinsky

What began as a day of smooth sailing and relaxed halibut fishing ended with a dramatic rescue of 13 fishermen on Kachemak Bay Wednesday. Fast response by the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary pulled the fishermen off the 36-foot Halibut Endeavor after it began taking on water about five miles off Seldovia. The Halibut Endeavor was one of eight vessels participating in an annual halibut-tagging event sponsored by the Homer Chamber of Commerce.

“That’s one of the worse time I’ve had,” said 85-year-old George Meeker of Homer, one of the passengers aboard the Halibut Endeavor.

Passenger Ed Stading, a Homer police officer, and his wife, Robanne, praised those involved in the rescue effort. “If you were going to write a list of all the heroes today, it would be huge,” Stading said. Weldon Chivers, captain of the Halibut Endeavor, which is owned and operated by Halibut King Charters of Homer, radioed the call for help. The first to respond to his “mayday” was a 27-foot SAFE Boat owned by the U.S. Coast Guard and dedicated for use by the Auxiliary in Homer.

“I briefed my crew and we headed in that direction, making about 40 knots,” said Coxswain Shane Taylor of Anchorage, instructor in an Auxiliary training academy currently being held in Homer.

With the boat at full throttle, Taylor and his crew — Richard Liebe of Anchorage, Ray Miller of Fairbanks and Mike Cupit, an academy exchange student from the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary — plotted a course that took them to the Halibut Endeavor’s location. Chivers continued to give updates on the situation via radio during the 20 minutes it took Taylor to arrive on scene.

“He was very, very calm and gave all the right information,” Taylor said.

“He kept that boat floating until we arrived.”

For the rest of the story, see Friday's Peninsula Clarion.



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