A 54-year-old man had to be rescued Friday from the waters off Port Allen, Kauai after a battle with a 230 lb tuna ended with his boat capsizing, him in the water, and one amazing story to tell.
The US Coast Guard reports that Coast Guard Sector Honolulu received a distress call at 7:41 a.m. Friday from a woman saying that her husband’s 14-foot Livingston boat had capsized about 10 miles south of Port Allen.
The man, identified as Anthony Wichman of Koloa, Kauai, was apparently fishing in the area when he hooked a massive 230 lb Ahi tuna. Things took a turn for the worse when the fierce battle with the fish capsized his boat, catching his leg in the fishing line in the process and dragged him underwater. Luckily, Wichman was able to free himself, climb on top of the capsized boat and call his wife for help.
The Coast Guard, after establishing communication with Wichman via cell phone, launched a 47-foot Motor Life Boat crew from Kauai and a MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew to the scene. Once on scene, the Dolphin crew found Wichman sitting on the hull of his partially submerged vessel and airlifted him to safety.
Meanwhile, the MLB crew stayed on scene with the capsized boat until Jordon Ornellas and Abraham Apilado, two friends of Wichman, arrived on scene to help salvage his boat. While trying to right the capsized vessel, Ornellas and Apilado realized that the Ahi was still hooked on the fishing line attached the vessel.
Amazingly, they were able to reel in the tuna, right the vessel and tow it back to Port Allen.
“This rescue is a perfect example of why mariners must be sure they have good safety equipment and reliable communications before heading out on the water,” said Lt. Jessica Mickelson, Sector Honolulu’s Public Affairs Officer. “Thankfully Mr. Wichman was still able to use his cell phone after capsizing and entering the water. Sector Honolulu was able to work in conjunction with 911 dispatch to get a GPS position of the capsized vessel from Mr. Wichman’s cell phone, enabling Coast Guard rescue crews to arrive on scene at the exact location of distress instead of having to conduct a search. At the end of the day, we couldn’t have asked for a better rescue. Mr. Wichman was delivered safely to shore with minimal injuries and he and his friends will have quite the indisputable fish tale to tell.”