Missing Sailor Arrives Safely in Hawaii After Spending Over 5 Weeks at Sea: 'Happy Ending'

Noel Rubio, 60, began his trip from Long Beach, California, to Kaneohe, O’ahu on Dec. 28, according to the Coast Guard

<p>U.S. Coast Guard</p> Noel Rubio

U.S. Coast Guard

Noel Rubio

A sailor has safely arrived in Hawaii after spending over 5 weeks at sea.

Noel Rubio, 60, began his trip to Kaneohe, O’ahu on Dec. 28, 2023, according to a news release from the United States Coast Guard.

He originally planned to arrive on Jan. 18, three weeks after launching his 32-foot Westsail sloop named “Malulani” from Long Beach, California.

However, Rubio did not arrive on time. He last made contact with a friend via cellphone while south of Catalina Island on the day he began his journey, and his only means of communication on the boat was “a VHF-FM marine band radio.”

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The Coast Guard was alerted to his disappearance on Feb. 2 and “began efforts” to locate both the sailor and the boat.

Fortunately, Rubio and his ship “arrived safely in Hawaii” on Saturday, the Coast Guard said.

<p>U.S. Coast Guard</p> The vessel Malulani

U.S. Coast Guard

The vessel Malulani

In an email to SFGATE, Coast Guard spokesperson Matt Masaschi said the case had a "happy ending" as the man's wife told them that “she made contact with her husband Saturday and that he was safe and within close proximity to Hawaii.” 

"His estimated arrival time to reach his destination was delayed due to a slower transit time than anticipated,” Masaschi added.

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Douglas Samp, a search and rescue mission coordinator in the Rescue Coordination Center Alameda, said the Coast Guard “is greatly appreciative of the expert consult advice” provided during the search for Rubio and his boat.

Samp also said mariners planning to attempt “an open ocean passage” are “highly encouraged to have multiple layers of communication” accessible on their vessel.

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Samp recommended mariners have “a VHF-FM DSC radio, HF DSC radio, satellite communications, and a 406Mhz electronic position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB),” the last of which can help search and rescue crews locate a mariner’s position “in a time of need.”

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