HONOLULU — The wife of a federal observer who was aboard the fishing vessel that sank off the coast of Hawaii over the weekend said Wednesday that her husband, a humorous adventurer and outdoorsman, was shaken by the dramatic event.
Steve Dysart was mostly uninjured, though "he said he has some bruises, some bumps, that sort of thing," Sherri Dysart said. "He said sometimes he's quite traumatized, but he's able to come in and out of that. He sounded shaky, but in good spirits and thankful for the other crew members, they all worked as a team."
Dysart, who lives in Shelton, Washington, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that she didn't even know the vessel sank until two days later when she received a call from the contractor her husband works for.
"She called me to let me know that the boat had sunk and all aboard were OK," Dysart said.
On Wednesday morning she spoke to her husband by satellite phone as he sat aboard another fishing vessel that is ferrying him and seven other rescued crewmembers to Oahu.
Sherri is also a bit shaken by the whole thing. "I think I realized that I'm kind of in shock a little bit ... I'm kind of like crying for no apparent reason," she said.
"He said 'this morning I got up and I saw the sunrise and so I know I'm alive,'" Dysart said. "He said, 'I feel like I'm proud of myself, I helped rescue people and they helped rescue me.'"
The 61-foot (18.5-meter) Princess Hawaii was several hundred miles (kilometers) offshore when the owner of the vessel, Loc Nguyen of Honolulu, says two rogue waves hit the boat and swamped it, sweeping five crewmembers into the ocean. Dysart, along with the captain and another crewmate were inside when the waves hit, Nguyen said, and were able to deploy the boat's life raft and save the others.
The men spent about 12 hours in the raft before the U.S. Coast Guard was able to coordinate rescue with the Princess Hawaii's sister ship, the Commander, which was fishing nearby.
The Coast Guard said it received an emergency distress alert from the Princess Hawaii late Sunday morning. A few hours later, an air crew got to the area, where they saw a flare and found eight people in a life raft.
The fishing boat was mostly submerged with only the bow above water.
Officials said the Coast Guard air crew dropped a radio to the life raft and helped establish communication with the Commander, which arrived nearly 12 hours after the distress call and brought the crew aboard.
Dysart is part of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration program that monitors the actions of commercial fishing crews at sea. Observers log data about catch, interactions with endangered species, vessel conditions and crew safety.
NOAA officials said they could not identify the observer and a request for the log from Sunday's Princess Hawaii voyage was denied.
The owner of Princess Hawaii said two massive waves hit the boat — one crashing over the back of the vessel and another smashing the side, he said.
"It was so big, they've never seen that before," Nguyen said. There was "too much water on the top and it went down."
Nguyen said he was "very happy" when he talked to the survivors and heard there were no injuries.
"I don't care very much about my boat," Nguyen said. "I lost money, OK. But if someone was dead or something, I would feel bad all my life."