Yatahay

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Yatahay (#) (-1991)



In the News~

November 14, 1991 [LAT]: “Skipper Larry Stoffel, 47, said the Yatahay left port from Ventura on Tuesday evening in search of fishing grounds near the Channel Islands. Aboard were Larry Stoffel, his nephew [Andrew Stoffel], Tye and his fiancee Barbara Korsberg, 36, a mother of seven. Andrew Stoffel lives in Los Osos in San Luis Obispo County. The other three are Ventura residents. As waves pounded against the Yatahay early Wednesday morning, water flooded its engine room at a rate of 1,000 gallons a minute under a pitch-black sky. Tye decided it was time to act. "I didn't think about it too much. I was pretty desperate," said Tye, 32, a few hours after he was rescued. "I knew we wouldn't survive unless we got the raft." He tied a rope around his waist, jumped into the water and swam about 100 feet toward the orange rubber boat. "The water wasn't that cold, but I was afraid of the sharks," Tye said. "I looked around, but I didn't see any." He caught the raft with only a few feet of rope to spare, then held on as his friends aboard the sinking ship pulled him back with the towrope. After floating on the raft for about an hour, Tye and three others were rescued by another commercial fishing vessel, the Island Hooker. It was too late to save the Yatahay, which sank 10 miles off San Nicolas Island. The four were brought to shore at Ventura Harbor by U. S. Coast Guard cutter Point Judith at 9:30 a.m., six hours after the ordeal began. They were wet, cold and still shaken but happy to be alive. "It was real scary, but it could have been a lot worse," said Yatahay crew member Andrew Stoffel, 20. "People could have died." Skipper Larry Stoffel, 47, said the Yatahay left port from Ventura on Tuesday evening in search of fishing grounds near the Channel Islands. Aboard were Larry Stoffel, his nephew Andrew, Tye and his fiancee Barbara Korsberg, 36, a mother of seven. Andrew Stoffel lives in Los Osos in San Luis Obispo County. The other three are Ventura residents. Larry Stoffel said he became aware that his trawler was taking on water about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, when an alarm went off and a red emergency signal lighted up. "I could see right away it was real serious," he said. "The pumps couldn't pick up the water." Stoffel said he didn't know what caused the flooding. "I couldn't go down to the engine room because there was too much water," he said. At 3:49 a.m., Stoffel made a Mayday call to the Coast Guard, which in turn dispatched a boat and a helicopter and alerted other vessels in the area. By then, the Yatahay was sinking fast. Stoffel said he prepared to abandon ship. "We tied the raft to the rail, but the waves popped the line loose and the wind blew the raft away," he said. After Tye retrieved the raft, all four crew members boarded it. "I was scared to death," said Korsberg, who was still shivering six hours after the trawler sank. "The raft wasn't very big and it was holding four people and there were big swells. I did a lot of praying." Minutes later, the Coast Guard helicopter appeared and Stoffel fired a flare. But to his surprise, the helicopter flew by and never returned. Coast Guard officials later explained that the helicopter was having engine problems and had to make an emergency landing on San Nicolas Island. "I just couldn't understand why the helicopter was flying away," Stoffel said. "It was a nightmare." The Island Hooker arrived about 5 a.m. and rescued the Yatahay crew. "They were great. They really came through," said Stoffel, who lived on his trawler. He said the 54-foot vessel is insured and he hopes to recoup his loss. Other than that, he is uncertain about the future. "At this point, I just want to get some rest, collect my thoughts and take it from there," he said. A Coast Guard spokesman said there was no evidence of negligence on the part of the Yatahay crew. "As far as we're concerned, it's a closed case," said Petty Officer William Atkinson. He said the Yatahay crew was lucky because the winds were mild and the sea relatively calm. "It was nothing spectacular," he said. "They were rescued very easily." Last year, California's 792,930 registered boats were involved in 1,095 accidents, Atkinson said. Twenty-eight vessels sank and there were 35 drownings from boat accidents during that period. "Wednesday's accident could have been a lot worse," he said.”