Boat Sinks In The Middle Of Kaneohe Bay

Divers Forced To Swim To Shore For Help

 UPDATED 7:38 AM HST Jan 26, 2012
HONOLULU -

Seven Oahu divers have an incredible fishing story of the one that got away -- not a prized fish, but instead their boat.

The men were over a mile away from shore, spear-fishing in the middle of Kaneohe Bay, when something went wrong.

"When I looked up, the boat was tipping and half of it was in the air," said Ewa Beach diver Matt Long.

The divers said the boat was a 26 foot-long pontoon boat and one of the pontoons quickly filled with water. As the boat tipped, gear was thrown into the water, and so was the diver's last chance to alert authorities to their emergency.

"As the boat started to tip, the boat jerked over and the captain's phone went into the water. The boat started filling with water so none of our phones on board were usable anymore," said Long.

The experienced divers had already spent hours in the water and had no idea they would spend hours more before being rescued.

"We hung out by the boat to see if could signal planes or boats out there. We were out there for about an hour or so before two of us decided to swim to Chinaman's hat," said Long.

Other divers paired up and swam over a mile in different directions to get help. Through it all the divers stayed calm, which emergency personnel said helped them survive.

"They stuck together and went to safety when the boat was sinking," said Capt. Terry Seelig, with the Honolulu Fire Department.

The diver's personal belongings sank when the boat partially submerged but the fishermen didn't go home empty handed. They were able to save some of the day's catch.

Even after the harrowing experience the men said they would still go fishing together again.

"Yeah, mostly likely we would -- just not anytime soon on that boat," said Long.

Some of the men suffered sunburns and sea-sickness from bobbing in the waters for hours. But after their ordeal, they said they were mostly hungry. Many had skipped breakfast then missed out on lunch because of all the swimming.

Now the divers are planning to salvage the boat from the middle of the bay.

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