What started out as a relaxing honeymoon in Hawaii nearly turned fatal as a newlywed couple allegedly were stranded at sea by a Maui Snorkeling Tour. 

Elizabeth “Bette” Webster and Alexander Burckle filed the suit against Sail Maui on Feb. 21, claiming that a boat left them behind during a tour around the island of Lanai on their September 2021 honeymoon.

The couple, both Stanford-educated chemists, say they spent two hours in the water amid increasingly rough seas before they were able to reach the shore of the island, where they were eventually rescued. The couple was close to death, their attorney Jared Washkowitz claim that if the couple was not young and fit then they would have drowned.


“The conditions were getting worse as they were out there,” Washkowitz said. 

In the water, Webster and Burckle say they were trying to swim back to the boat but unable to make progress due to the growing waves. They claim that they used the hand signals as instructed to call for help, while the boat was getting further and further away.

The couple was half a mile offshore, now in 60-80 ft. deep water and among 6-8 ft. rolling waves, the complaint states.

They realized they would have to swim toward land and began paddling “as hard as they could” toward an abandoned resort, Old Club Lanai. They say they reached the beach around 1 p.m. — over two hours after they arrived at the snorkeling site.

Webster wrote “help” and “SOS” in the sand as the couple tried to get the attention of a passing boat. They eventually encountered two Lanai residents, who helped them return to Maui on a ferry.

The couple filled out a police report and a Coast Guard investigation “concluded that the vessel master negligently performed duties with regard to operating the vessel,” according to the complaint.

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