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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The owner of the Hardway, Doug Mathwin, was overheard this week by another patron in a Channel Islands Sandwich shop talking to the proprietor about his boat that sank and Captain Chris Wazowicz who had died when the boat went down. The other patron said he saw a report in Allcoast for a boat named the Hardway, and gave Doug the web site info. Doug was able to find the web site which included my name and phone number.

According to Doug, the Hardway was a custom-built 44' New Wave fiberglass-wood-foam-kevlar hull built in 1996. It had all newer electronics, newer twin 350 cummins, etc., over a $200K, sport fishing and commercial boat. When found by the Coast Guard or other searchers (I believe on Saturday the 28th) it was floating or partially submerged further west, and then drifted into the China Point area at Catalina and went aground. Doug expressed some disappointment that the Coast Guard did not keep the Hard Way from sinking, especially considering that a death was involved with this incident. According to Doug, the searchers also had found the life boat near the west end of CAT.

Per Doug, we were the first responders on the scene after the boat had disappeared and then sunk. Coast Guard investigations are underway.

Doug is requesting that if you find any pieces of the boat, especially any with name or ID, that you call him: 805-218-0626.

The debris field which we found was spread out on the kelp line between west Salta Verde and China Point. At least 1 engine and part of the boat are on the beach just east of China Point.

Sat. Feb. 4th update:

I called the Coast Guard today in San Pedro regarding this case. They were unaware that we had the EPIRB and Survival Suit. I almost immediately got a call back today from Lt. Johnson of the US Coast Guard, who is the lead investigator on this case. He was unaware that we had found and retained the EPIRB and survival suit, although we had reported this last week by VHF radio to the San Diego group and had given them our name and phone numbers. I've been waiting all week for them to call and was surprised that we hadn't heard anything yet from the Coast Guard. Morris and I went to the San Pedro Coast Guard facility today on Terminal Island and turned-in this equipment in order to help the investigations and to return them to the boat owner.

If you find anything from the boat wreckage that may be of benefit to solving this case, you can reach Lt. Johnson at 310-707-7380.

Sun. Feb 5th update:

See newspaper article regarding the incident in post #6 below.

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A link to an article in the Ventura Star below.

He leaves a wife and two kids. A terrible tragedy. I, for one, will be contributing to the fund noted in the article.,1375,VCS_251_4441635,00.html


Reel Angel
Ventura, CA

Beacon Marine
Ventura, CA
Quality Boat & Marine Products for Over 25 Years

[email protected]

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141 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Newspaper Article about Capt Waz and Hardway

Newspaper article from Ventura County

Mystery surrounds death of Ventura fisherman
By Kevin Clerici, [email protected]

February 4, 2006

For five torturous days and nights, Elga Tellou-Wasowicz waited for her husband to call home.

All she knew was that Chris "the Waz" Wasowicz, a Polish immigrant and father of the couple's 6-month-old twin boys, was somewhere in rough seas off the Los Angeles coastline. The seasoned commercial fisherman had left on a solo expedition, using high-powered lights to lure squid to the water's surface so nearby boats with massive nets could fetch the valuable fish.

Last Saturday â?? five days after the Ventura couple had last spoken and three days after a rescue effort had begun â?? the call finally arrived. But it wasn't from Chris.

A fisherman had discovered the Hard Way â?? a boat Wasowicz was captaining for the first time â?? about a mile off Catalina Island. A Coast Guard helicopter would later find Wasowicz's lifeless body a mile from the vessel, which had sunk except for the bow.

The body was fully submerged, but the 37-year-old's hands were still clutching a life vest that bobbed at the surface, said Wasowicz's sister, Lidia Bradford. She spoke with rescuers and was on Catalina Island at the time with a group of people looking for him.
"I know in my heart that all Chris thought about while he was out there was getting home to these babies," Wasowicz's wife said Friday of their twins, Christian and Johann.

Much of Wasowicz's ordeal at sea remains a mystery. The family is convinced Wasowicz, first reported missing on Jan. 25, was alive for days and are questioning the Coast Guard's response.
"There is so much anger inside, I'm exploding," Tellou-Wasowicz said tearfully from the couple's modest home. She said she thinks more resources could have been utilized to find her husband after he was first reported missing.

"I know Chris fought to the very end," she said, her voice cracking. "A part of me actually wishes his death would have been quicker, so he didn't have to sit out there and agonize over it."
A Coast Guard investigation of the incident, including a possible time of death, probably will take months to complete, authorities said.
However, Tony Migliorini, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, said that when Wasowicz was reported missing, an air and sea search was immediately conducted around Catalina Island. The five-hour search until darkness included boats from the Avalon harbor patrol, Los Angeles County lifeguards and the Coast Guard, as well as a Coast Guard helicopter.

In addition, the Coast Guard issued an all-points radio bulletin, or an "urgent marine information broadcast," to seek the aid of other boaters. The bulletin was repeated every hour.
"We did as much, if not more, than our typical response to try to find him and the boat," Migliorini said. "We searched the areas he was last seen in, and we even scoured around other islands in the vicinity."

Commercial fishing has long been considered by the U.S. Department of Labor as one of the most dangerous professions.

While boating alone is considered a cardinal sin to recreational boaters, it's a common practice for those manning light boats, said veteran fishermen Chris Hoeflinger of the Ventura County Commercial Fishermen's Association.
"There is no reason to have a deck hand," he said. "There would be nothing to do.

"He would have been out there looking for large bodies of squid to come to the surface," Hoeflinger said. "Then he would call another catcher boat, likely someone he had a contract with, who would come and put their nets around the squid."

That call never went out.

Hazardous sea conditions were in effect when contact with Wasowicz was lost. In fact, a larger, more seaworthy boat had capsized in the area around the same time, the Coast Guard reported. No one from that boat was injured.

During the search, the wind also shifted repeatedly. Theoretically, the boat could have sunk and later returned to the surface.
"While he was missing, all the fishing boats were searching for him," Ventura Harbor Patrol Officer John Higgins said. "There was a comprehensive search. The Coast Guard did quite a bit."

Wasowicz's body was pulled from the ocean Jan. 28 and rushed to Catalina Island, where emergency crews tried to revive him. His sister heard second-hand information at the time that there were signs of life, giving her a glimmer of hope.

"They tried for half an hour, and there was nothing to be done," she recalled Friday. "That's when I knew they weren't going to bring him back."

The Hard Way was recovered the next day in pieces, Migliorini said.
An emergency radio beacon on the boat never operated, authorities and the family said. Once a boat takes on water, the beacon â?? a required piece of safety equipment â?? is supposed to send a position signal to the Coast Guard.

"Sometimes boats sink and we don't know why," Migliorini said.
"The majority of the time it doesn't end this way."
Wasowicz didn't have life insurance.

Without a job, his widow isn't sure what she is going to do. Tellou-Wasowicz said she and Chris, who loved to surf and play guitar for his sons, had been together for 17 years.

"Chris had an amazing love for the ocean," she said.
"He never made me feel unsafe, and because of it, I never worried about him."

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Yea Rob, that was a Mr. Toads Wild Ride on the way back from the Rodriguez, remember what happened on one of those dives running down hill when it slammed me against the cabin window knocking it out into the water? Daren thinks that may be what happened-it got caught on the down side of a big one and brooched it, he said coming back from Monterey one time he did it and green water was right up against the starboard side of the pilothouse!
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