Good Samaritans Help Fishermen

Paul Kolbe
Paul Kolbe

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - The Leilani fishing boat gutted by a fire off Diamond Head is causing more problems. It's now sinking, and Coast Guard officials are deciding what to do with the burned boat.

Officials say the Leilani is about 70-percent underwater. Guardsmen are making sure the 700-gallons of diesel fuel on board isn't leaking into the ocean. Five fishermen on board were not hurt, thanks to some people who say they were just doing their job.

As a beach attendant at the Outrigger Canoe Club, Paul Kolbe's days are pretty routine.

"We're beach boys," said Kolbe. "We pick up back rests, give surfboards out, and just take care of whatever needs to be done in the water."

On Saturday afternoon, that including saving five fishermen from their burning boat. Kolbe was one of the many that saw the smoke from the beach, and jumped into one of the club's powerboats.

"Always there," he said about the club's boat Mokulua. "Always ready to go in case we need it."

"To see flames from three miles out is pretty big, you can tell the fuel was probably going up," said Kolbe.

As the fire gutted the boat, Kolbe, co-worker Gabe Drill, and club member and waterman Bruce Black found the five fishermen clinging onto a buoy. They were cold, wet, and shaken up, but most of all -- grateful.

"They wanted to shake our hands, but we told them just hold on, because we're in a 19-foot boat with eight people on it," said Kolbe. "Just hold on and you can thank us later."

But Kolbe says all the thanks he needs is knowing that five people were on this burning boat, and five people were rescued.

"To have a happy ending like that, it left me with a really good feeling and we're all glad just to help," he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. It's still up in the air whether the Coast Guard or the state will salvage the ship.