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4 men with Wisconsin ties rescue sailors stranded in middle of the Pacific Ocean

By Julia Fello,


FRENCH POLYNESIA -- Four men with ties to Wisconsin came to the rescue, after a whale sunk another boat!

This happened in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, near the Polynesian Islands.

It was the trip of a lifetime for the four men with ties to Muskego and Elkhorn. They were aboard Geoff Stone's Boat, Rolling Stones, headed from the Galápagos Islands to French Polynesia.

Geoff Stone
Geoff Stone's boat, Rolling Stones

"That passage is roughly 3,200 miles, it's about a 21-day sail, on average," Geoff said.

Halfway in, plans took a turn. They learned of a mayday call from the captain of the boat that had been hit by a whale, Rick Rodriguez from Florida. "It sounded like something broke and we immediately looked to the side and saw a really big whale bleeding."

Rick Rodriguez/Instagram/NBC News
Picture Rick Rodriguez boat, before it was hit by a whale

Rodriguez says the boat was sinking. "It was just an incredible amount of water coming in and it felt like a scene out of a movie," he said.

All four people aboard hopped into this life raft and waited for help.

Rick Rodriguez

65 miles away in the Pacific Ocean, Geoff's crew realized they were the closest boat. They pulled their cheeseheads together, coming up with a plan to get to them in the middle of the night.

Corey Bergandahl, aboard the Rolling Stones and grew up in Muskego, said it was not easy. "On the open ocean in the middle of the night, thousands of miles from land, I don't think we could have drawn it out much better."

Geoff said the four people they rescued, "Were in great spirits, and they were very calm and collected."

Rick Rodriguez/Instagram/NBC News

He added that he learned how to sail on Lake Michigan. "That's where we got our first taste of big water on Lake Michigan, we did some sailing out of McKinley there."

The daredevils also love to water ski on Little Muskego Lake.

Mark Moriarty

But the story of saving a group of people, whose boat sank because a whale slammed into it, takes the cake.

"We left the whale jokes till probably day eight," joked Mark Moriarty, from Muskego.

"...and I just couldn't imagine the second half of our trip being any better! It would have been weird without them," said Alex Stone, who grew up in Elkhorn.

Geoff usually lives on the boat for most of the year with just his wife and three children. They homeschool onboard.

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