January 8, 1997 in Nation/World

Fishermen Rescued After Nearly A Month Adrift Life Raft Falling Apart, Water Low When 2 Found

Associated Press

For a time, the only Christmas presents two fishermen thought they would give their families were the farewell messages scratched on the plastic paddles of their life raft.

“If I don’t make it, I hope to see you in my next life,” wrote David Summers.

“I hope I make it but if not give the family my love,” wrote Richard Enslow Jr.

The messages were written three days after Christmas and nearly three weeks after their 48-foot fishing boat, Lady Aud, sank Dec. 9.

Salvation came Monday when the fishing vessel Kekoa found them near the island of Niihau.

Enslow, 20, and Summers, 25, both of Mililani, were treated for slight dehydration. Summers also had a dislocated shoulder he suffered before their boat went down.

The men were heading to port to get medical attention for Summers’ shoulder when they heard a thump, and the Lady Aud started sinking. Water covered the battery, so they couldn’t call for help.

The two climbed aboard a six-man raft with some survival supplies aboard and drifted through wind, rain, lightning and huge waves.

“It sounded like a war zone out there,” Summers said.

Rescuers scoured the area for five days before calling off the search.

On what the men believe was New Year’s Day, something - possibly a whale - overturned their raft. They climbed back in but had lost most of their supplies, including an air pump. Having to blow air into the leaking raft every 20 minutes left them exhausted.

The two survived on fish they were able to catch and on rainwater. By the time fisherman Kevin Yamase found them, only a few sips of water remained in their bottle. Their raft also was starting to fall apart.

“I don’t know how much longer we would have lasted,” Summers said.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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