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3 boaters missing for a week rescued at sea


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Fishermen survived week on crackers, gum


2009 Houston Chronicle

Aug. 30, 2009, 12:51PM

Three southeast Texas fishermen survived more than a week on the Gulf of Mexico by clinging to their capsized boat, sustaining on crackers, bubble gum and “country boy” know-how.

“It sends chills through me,” said Shane Phillips, whose husband James was recuperating Sunday with his family after he and his two friends were rescued late Saturday by the Coast Guard after being spotted by a boater, 180 miles from Port Aransas.

Phillips, 30 of Blessing and his two friends: Curt Hall, 28, of Palacios; and Tressell Hawkins, 42, of Markham, set out on Phillips' 23-foot Sea Chaser Catamaran on Aug. 21.

The three went to sleep that Friday night and were awakened by water coming in, Shane Phillips said.

“They tried to start the pumps to get the water out,” she said. “They would not start.”

They fired off three flares, hoping that workers at a nearby oil rig, about three miles away would notice. But no one did.

Eventually the boat capsized that Friday night and the three friends did the one thing Coast Guard officials credit with saving their lives: they stuck with the boat.

Shane Phillips, who spent Sunday fielding calls from well-wishers, relatives and the media so her husband could relax with his five children, said her daughter had packed bubble gum in her dad's fishing gear. They were able to salvage some crackers and also rationed out the gum.

The men also were able to suck fresh water out of the boat's internal “washdown” tank through a hose. Fishermen often keep such a tank to wash fish slime off their boat when they are out in the salt water.

“It's not the cleanest, not the greatest and it tasted like diesel,” Shane Phillips said. But the men were happy to have it, she said.

“You can't keep a country boy down,” said Shane Phillip.

Her husband told her the men saw Coast Guard plane in the week they were adrift and several boats. She said the three also built distress flags out of their T-shirts and tying them to the boat's metal railing that they kicked out and used as flagpoles.

But nothing seemed to catch rescuers eyes she said until a Good Samaritan aboard the pleasure craft Affordable Fantasy found the men.

Shane Phillip said her family is trying to take in the events of the last week. Her youngest, a 5-year-old, seemed overwhelmed, she said.

“Yesterday was the day he was told that his dad wasn't coming home,” she said. “Then he comes home. He's on overload right now."

Last Friday, the Coast Guard stopped their massive weeklong search that spanned more than 88,000 square miles for the three men, who were last seen Aug. 21 by an oil rig worker fishing about 75 miles south of Matagorda, where they had departed for an overnight trip.

“I can't even describe my feelings,” said Rebecca Kern, Hall's fiancee. “I really can't even describe it. ... It's just been a roller coaster of emotions all week, the not knowing, getting upset and fearing for them out there. We weren't going to give up. We knew they were out there on that boat and we had to bring them home.”

Petty Officer Renee Aiello, a Coast Guard spokeswoman, said they were bringing the men back to shore in a 47-foot rescue vessel. They were expected to arrive in Port Aransas at about 1 a.m. Sunday.

“This is a very happy ending to what could have been a very sad story,” she said, noting that Coast Guard officials were “getting chills” to know the men had been found alive. “We're excited to get them reunited with their families and want to make sure they're in the best health possible.”

The search, which covered an area roughly the size of Minnesota, and which drew in air and sea resources from Florida and Alabama in addition to Texas, had shifted eastward by Thursday and focused on an area 85 to 100 miles off the Louisiana coast because currents had been moving in that direction.

“It's like finding a needle in a haystack out in the Gulf of Mexico,” she said late Saturday. “It's obvious they had a will to survive and they did it for seven days, and now they're about 4.5 hours from being on dry land.”

Family members of the men said the search had become the subject of prayers all over the country. Mariners around the world sent e-mails and good wishes.

“It's a miracle,” said Brenda Kern, Rebecca Kern's stepmother. “We're just crying with joy.”



3 boaters missing for a week rescued at sea

Men are found sitting atop their capsized catamaran 180 miles from land

Associated Press

PORT ARANSAS, Texas - Three Texas boaters missing for a week were reunited with their families early Sunday after they were found alive, sitting on top of their capsized catamaran 180 miles from land, the Coast Guard said.

The crew of the Affordable Fantasy spotted the men Saturday night off Port Aransas and rescued them from their 23-foot catamaran, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Renee Aiello. A Coast Guard boat met them and brought them back to land, where EMS crews were waiting for them. They declined medical attention.

The three were reported missing Aug. 22 after they left Matagorda, about 90 miles southwest of Houston, on a fishing trip and never returned. Port Aransas is about 130 miles from Matagorda.

"They probably stayed with the boat for almost eight days," said Aiello, who did not have any other details about what happened to the men during the week they were missing.

They were identified as Curtis Hall, 28, of Palacios; Tressel Hawkins, 43, of Markham; and James Phillips, 30, of Blessing, who owned the boat.

The Coast Guard had called off its search Friday after scouring 86,000 square miles of water without finding them.


"Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: Those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave."

"...for the system to be credible, people actually have to be deported at the end of the process."

US Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (D-TX)

Testimony to the House Immigration Subcommittee, February 24, 1995

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Goooooo Texans!!!!!

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies."

Senator Barack Obama
Senate Floor Speech on Public Debt
March 16, 2006


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Filed: Lift. Cond. (apr) Country: Egypt


Don't just open your mouth and prove yourself a fool....put it in writing.

It gets harder the more you know. Because the more you find out, the uglier everything seems.


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