Skip to content
December 10, 2014

Sailor Found After Search Abandoned

The little Hawaiian sloop Malia is safely back in port today, nine days after the search for her was abandoned. 

© US Coast Guard

After receiving two mayday calls November 27 from Hawaiian sailor Ron Ingraham, 67, US Coast Guard aircraft flew 59 search sorties, scouring roughly 12,000 square miles of ocean, but no sign of the solo sailor’s 25-ft sloop Malia was ever found, and he was not heard from again — until yesterday, 12 days after the initial call for help. 

At 7:55 yesterday morning, Coast Guard personnel in Honolulu picked up a brief mayday from Ingraham on VHF 16. His position was then approximately 64 miles south of Honolulu. The 505-ft US Navy destroyer Paul Hamilton, which was 14 miles away, was dispatched to assist in addition to Coast Guard aircraft and the Hilo-based CG cutter Kiska, which successfully towed Malia to Kaunakakai, Molokai. At the time of the initial Thanksgiving Day mayday, Ingraham reported that his boat was taking on water and in danger of sinking. Details on the nature of his problems and any repairs he might have made have not yet been released. Evidently Malia did not have an EPIRB or similar tracking device on board.

If you squint, you can make out Ron Ingraham, shirtless, in the cockpit of his sloop, talking with US Navy rescuers from the destroyer Paul Hamilton. 

© US Coast Guard

In recent days Ingraham’s friends have been planning an event in his honor. But now, instead of a memorial to his loss, it will be a celebration of his rescue! A Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Scott Carr made the point that it is extremely rare for a sailor in peril to be found after a search has been abandoned — in this case, on December 1.

In other South Pacific sailing news, West Coast sailor Rimas Meleshyus finally made it to safe refuge yesterday, arriving under tow at Pago Pago, American Samoa, 122 days after leaving San Francisco Bay aboard his San Juan 24 Pier Pressure. His was not a mayday situation, but he was unable to make landfall in his engineless boat without assistance. Although the sailing skills of this Russian-born American are extremely limited, and his tiny trailer-sailer was never meant for offshore sailing, he is absolutely determined to sail or drift around the world aboard Pier Pressure — at least he was prior to making this epic four-month, 4,000-mile crossing.

Where Is This?

Those 5,000-ft mountains in the background make it unlikely this is a photo of Florida. 

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

If it weren’t for the mountains, the above photo would look a lot like Florida. But it’s actually a shot of the channel leading out of the Vallarta Marina into Banderas Bay. You sure get a different perspective on things from a couple of hundred feet up.

Vallarta Marina, which has something like 300 berths, was in bankruptcy for many years. During that time the gates and docks crumbled because of a lack of maintenance, and the restrooms regularly scored an 11 on a 1 to 10 scale of disgustingly filthy.

The docks on the lower right are being rebuilt. The docks and gates across the way have been completely refurbished.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

The marina was purchased about 18 months ago, and last spring harbormaster Christian Mancebo showed us the renovations that were underway. At least three gates and many docks have been replaced, but the biggest change of all has beenthe restrooms. “They are very nice,” several visitors have told us.
The three major marinas in Banderas Bay — Marina Vallarta, Paradise Village Marina and Marina Riviera Nayarit — all have their pros and cons, and their ardent fans. Marina Vallarta scores big points for being very close to downtown Puerto Vallarta and all its many attractions. On the negative side, it’s surrounded by buildings and thus can be hot and windless. Paradise Village Marina gets high marks for being clean, well run, and a part of the very large Paradise Village Resort. Others don’t like the fact that it’s part of a large resort with so many tourists. Marina Riviera Nayarit is beloved by many cruisers because of adjacent La Cruz, which is an authentic Mexican town largely free of tourists, and because it’s popular with so many cruisers. Some people don’t like Marina Riviera Nayarit because it’s the furthest marina from Puerto Vallarta proper, which to the minds of others is a big plus.

This is the third of the marina that can’t be seen in the other photos. 

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

As for us, we like them all, as they all have something different to offer.

Coming soon, our aerial coverage of Paradise Village Marina.


Although the body of former Bay Area sailor Tom Kardos still has not been found, many more details have emerged regarding the lead-up to the capsize of his boat, Seven Sisters, in Mexico’s Gulf of Tehuantepec late last month.