APNewsBreak: Fisherman talks about 5 days adrift

AP News
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Posted: Jul 08, 2011 10:39 PM
APNewsBreak: Fisherman talks about 5 days adrift

Tuna fisherman Jim Clayholt said Friday he and his son rigged makeshift sails to keep their disabled boat on course as they drifted south for five days along the Oregon Coast.

The 54-year-old Clayholt and his 23-year-old son, Tom Clayholt, were towed to shore after they got a radio message through to the Coast Guard Friday morning.

Coast guard aircraft had been searching for them since Thursday after their relatives got a text message from the disabled vessel and notified authorities.

From Florence, Ore., where the Coast Guard towed them in, Clayholt told The Associated Press that the 40-foot vessel was taking on a little water, so he and his son had to pump water by hand hourly after its battery died.

The sails they rigged from a sleeping bag, tarps and bedding, Clayholt said.

"It worked pretty good. We were making headway," he said. "We were headed in the right direction. We more than doubled our speed, and we could control our direction."

Clayholt said he hoped the apparatus would get him to his intended destination at Coos Bay, and he also hoped he might somehow make contact with commercial fishing buddies coming north.

He said he and his son put in at Astoria on Oregon's northwest coast on Sunday, and the vessel he'd recently bought soon lost power.

The two had food and water for a multiday fishing voyage, Clayholt said. He said the weather was generally favorable, although they had a bumpy ride at times during the 135-mile drift.

The Coast Guard sent a search plane and two helicopters up Thursday in a 10,000-square-mile search that resumed Friday.

Clayholt said he was born in Alaska, the son of a bush pilot who taught him to be independent and take care of things by himself.

He said he's been a commercial fisherman for three decades, working albacore tuna the last seven years. He said he lists his address as Eugene, where his mother and sister live, while his son is from Marina, Calif.