Canadian Family Members Rescued From Pacific Ocean

Published February 9, 2012 8:00PM (EST)

HONOLULU (AP) — Three Canadian family members attempting to cross the Pacific in a sailboat are safe Thursday after being thrown overboard following an encounter with rough seas that battered and disabled their vessel, leaving them "adrift with no hope of survival" hundreds of miles from Hawaii.

A father, his 9-year-old son, and one of the boy's uncles, attempting their first voyage across the ocean, ran into strong wind that snapped their mast and choppy water that overheated their engine. They attempted to fashion a makeshift sail — but it blew away.

They contacted the Coast Guard, which directed a massive cargo ship to the stranded 38-foot vessel.

"They were adrift with no hope of survival," said James Kelleher, the ship's captain. "Conditions were bad and worsening. We changed course and immediately began running at full speed over to them."

But as the nearly 900-foot cargo ship approached early Wednesday, it caused a swell that sank the sailboat, throwing all three into the water.

Crew members were able to reach the uncle, 29-year-old Mitchell James, and pull him aboard. But father, 32-year-old Bradley James, and son, 9-year-old Wes James, began to quickly drift away, Kelleher said.

The crews eventually was able to reach them, and an hour after being tossed overboard, they were aboard the ship.

All three arrived to Honolulu on the massive containership early Thursday.

"They're doing great," Kelleher said. "They loved getting a hot meal and a hot breakfast."

Jim Storey, spokesman for Horizon, which owns the containership, said the company would be putting up the trio in a Honolulu hotel.

"They seem happy and grateful," said their brother, Ryan James, from Alberta, Canada, where all three live. "They were scared the whole time."

By Salon Staff

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