Missing Christian Missionary's Boat Capsized Off Hawaii's Big Island

HONOLULU (AP) — A sailor missing since a boat capsized off Hawaii's Big Island was trying to spread Christianity.

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported ( ) that Aaron Bremner, 24, is part of a group called Youth With a Mission that was preparing for a two-year voyage. They were planning to sail to Pacific islands to provide medical and dental work, water purification and Bibles.

Bremner was with five sailors who took a 75-foot sailboat off the Kona Coast on Friday because dangerous weather threatened the vessel. But on Saturday morning, large waves flipped the boat two or three times.

Four other crew members escaped in a portable raft and made it to shore, said Phil Cunningham, spokesman for YWAM Ships. Bremner was sleeping in his berth, but they couldn't get to him because the passageway was blocked, Cunningham said.

Bremner's aunt Chris Mason said the young man had been her "guardian angel" and had talked her through some difficult personal issues last year. She said he had been struggling with drinking and drugs before moving to Hawaii to join the missionary group that he was sailing with on Saturday: YWAM Ships Kona.

"He was an amazing young man," Mason said. "He was just a lost kid, and he was searching for a direction. He had so much energy. He couldn't be contained."

Bremner found peace after being baptized two years ago, and he later discovered sailing through a relative, Mason said.

Things began falling into place for Bremner while working as a crew member for YWAM Ships. "He just found a passion for it," Mason said.

On Saturday, the ketch Hawaii Aloha overturned about four miles offshore, then ran aground a few yards off the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.

After high tide moved the vessel and allowed firefighters to search all areas inside, firefighters found no one on the boat, a fire department release said. Firefighters said crews will continue searching from land and air Monday, and the Coast Guard said crews searched the water by helicopter and patrol boat Sunday.

"It's horrible," Cunningham said. "We're staying focused on finding him and taking care of the people that were affected by this."

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