Rescued Elderly Sailor Arrives in Honolulu

Published: Jun. 14, 2012 at 2:10 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 14, 2012 at 2:53 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An 81-year old rescued sailor is receiving medical treatment in Honolulu after arriving aboard Horizon Lines' cargo ship Reliance just after midnight this morning.

The crew rescued Robert Bourdon of Longview, Washington on Monday after he suffered a stroke about 1,100 nautical miles East North East of Oahu on Sunday, June 10.

Bourdon was sailing with his son and grandson from California to Hilo aboard their 33 foot long sailboat, Gallivant, when the stroke happened about half way between San Diego and Honolulu. He was partly paralyzed and couldn't speak and the family doctor, via Satellite phone, urged them to do a medical evacauation at sea.  That's when they contacted the Coast Guard and the Horizon Reliance was diverted to help.

Bourdon's daughter-in-law, Jenni Bourdon, arrived in Honolulu from Washington State Wednesday night to be by Bourdon's side when crews carried Bourdon on a stretcher down the starboard gangway of the Reliance to an awaiting ambulance at the Horizon Lines Honolulu Terminal at Pier 51 at Sand Island.

"He wasn't talking," she said. "He wasn't responding verbally with me but he was there. He's doing really well, strong. So, we'll see what they say at the hospital."

Jenni said she got to shake the hands of most of the Reliance crewmembers to thank them for taking such good care of Bourdon, even keeping 24 hour watch over him while on board.

"It was just overwhelming to think about a 900 foot ship and this little tiny 30 foot sailboat," said Jenni. "And just standing next to it I started crying because I just couldn't believe the size of it. It's just amazing, overwhelming."

The Gallivant was damaged during the ship's three rescue attempts. The boat nearly went under after the ship lowered its life boat which slammed into the sailboat during a larger swell. The second try to lower a basket by crane to Bourdon was ruled out.

Then finally, Jenni said, "They lowered the gangplack which is equally terrifying. And my son, holding his grandpa, basically helped push and shove and jump across this gangplank. Yeah, that's like Discovery Channel stuff, makes me cry to think about it."

The ship's Chief Mate, Steve Itson said by phone, the Chief Engineer, Sean Stevens and Boatswain, Quy Taylor, made the transfer happen on the gangway on the port side of the ship, in 8 to 10 foot seas .

"He shot right up the gangway," said Itson right after the transfer was made. "Like a Brahma bull he was carried up by the Boatswain."

The Gallivant set sail from the vessel's home port of Olympia, Washington on May 17.  The family has been tracking their adventures and the rescue in their online sailing blog. The three men were supposed to pick up two more family members during the trip, including Jenni, who was just happy to see her father-in-law dockside when he arrived.

Coast Guard officials in Hawaii first recieved news of Bourdon's medical need from its rescue center in Alameda, California. They then started looking for vessels in the area to respond, and once again found the Horizon Reliance, its second rescue this year.

Just four months ago on February 8, the Reliance crew rescued a Canadian family of three after their sailboat lost its mast in rough weather and one of the crew was hurt.  Their sailboat sank during the dangerous night rescue in a collision with the huge Reliance in high seas, but the Canadians, including a young boy escaped with their lives.

Using its AMVER global ship tracking system, the Coast Guard located and diverted Horizon Reliance from its routine shipping route from Los Angeles to Honolulu. The vessel, managed by Horizon Lines of Charlotte, NC, joined the Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System in 1990.

Bourdon's son, John, and grandson, Justin, remain onboard the Gallivant and are expected in in Hawaii in about 10 days.

The Bourdon's Gallivant sailing blog

Related Story: Ship Saves Elderly Sailor

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