MOLOKAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Four adults and four children traveling to Molokai from Oahu Sunday afternoon were forced to abandon ship when boat they were in sank in the Kaiwi Channel.
"We knew it was going to go down so we just started getting anything that we really needed like life jackets and I put my fins on and we all jumped in the water and the boat went over," said Jeff Kozlovich.
The group left Sandy Beach Park around 1:30 p.m. They brought along three kayaks and the plan was to kayak back to Oahu on Monday.
They were 12 miles west of Molokai when their 21-foot vessel got hit by rough waters.
"Eventually it got scary rough real fast where waves were breaking over the bow and it happened really quick. Before we knew it, too much water was in the boat and we really couldn't steer well or maneuver," Kozlovich said.
Right before the boat sunk, the experienced waterman crew untied the kayaks from the boat then tied them all together and used their cell phones to call 911.
Although their cell reception worked, the United States Coast Guard says it was a special tracking device called a "EPIRB" that was the hero of the day.
"An 'EPIRB' is an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon," said Lt. Jessica Mickelson.
"And basically what it is it's a safety device used to alert search and rescue services," Mickelson said.
Mickelson says without that device, who knows what could have happened.
"It could have been bad...you have to have a lot of respect for that ocean and the wind and conditions out there can change very quickly," said Kozlovich.
The Coast Guard advises not to rely on cell phones in the middle of the ocean. They say it's important to have the appropriate safety equipment.
All eight people were wearing their life jackets. No injuries were reported.