Hurricane survivors talk about ordeal at sea

Published On: Aug 12 2014 07:30:26 AM HST   Updated On: Aug 12 2014 06:27:02 PM HST

Three men rescued by a Matson container ship arrived at Honolulu Harbor Tuesday morning and spoke with the media about their ordeal.

Click here to watch Ashley Moser's report.

The Manukai left California on Wednesday headed to Hawaii on its regular route when it was contacted on Sunday about a sailboat within 500 miles of its location that was caught in Hurricane Julio.

Matson officials say the vessel turned around traveled miles to get to the ship in distress Sunday night.  The sailboat Walkabout, also traveling from California to Hawaii, had three members on board.

The Manukai tried to rescue the three men for about 4.5 hours.  Matson officials say the crew tried to use a lifeboat, but because of the strong winds from Julio the lifeboat was blown away.

"We were in probably in 45-to-60 mph winds.  And they tried to get us aboard, but it was too dangerous.  Visibility was really down.  So, we called it off at about midnight and they sat there all night long using their fuel, and their time, and their equipment to wait until they could take us aboard in the morning," said 61-year-old Ben Nealy.

WATCH: Interview with Ben Nealy

"We arrived on scene, the situation was dire.  It was far from ideal conditions," said Matson 1st Capt. John Bloomingdales.

WATCH: Interview with Matson captain

At the request of the Walkabout crew, rescue crews rested for the night and at first light Monday they attempted a rescue again.  They were successful.

Mike Vanway says he was freaking out when the waves hit the sailboat and they were taking on water.

"I got totally just covered in water and flipped over and and all this stuff hit me and I was on the port side and when the water came in off the starboard, it swished and pushed everything on top of me," said Vanway.

Lee Nealy said he knew everything would be OK.

"It was a little bit worrisome when the big wave came and we took on all that water," said Nealy.

WATCH: Interview with Mike Vanway, Lee Nealy

At around 8 a.m. Monday the Walkabout crew was rescued.  The Matson crew was able to get the crew up the ladder.  The sailboat was abandoned.

Vanway's birthday is on Wednesday and he hopes he see his family soon.


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