0530 Yesterday morning the phone rings with the Vessel Assist Dispatch calling. They tell me the USCG is on scene of a boat hard aground on the rocks at Gedney Island with an uncooperative owner onboard (1 POB). The water is at the “cabinets” according to the dispatcher but the boat can’t sink any further than it already is and it is high tide (+11.2′). The coasties can’t get close enough in their 45′ due to the draft and have been standing by for a couple hours even though they came all the way from Seattle, approx 30 NM away. This run is about 25 minutes from our slip at the Everett Marina. I give them an ETA and get dressed and head towards the marina. On the way, the dispatcher calls back and says the Everett Police have removed the POB so I shouldn’t expect anyone onboard when I get there. They did confirm the boat was insured for liability only. I told them I hadn’t even seen the vessel yet, a 34′ Pacemaker with twin screws and a wood hull. Along the drive to the marina, the dispatcher calls back with updated coordinates passed along from the USCG which puts the boat inside the Everett Jetty and only about a quarter mile from my slip. It never did make sense that the Everett Police would be involved in any action on Gedney Island as it not their area of operations.
Arriving at the boat, I can see the flashing lights of the various agency boats (USCG, US Navy – they often help due to their 24 hour presence at the nearby Everett Naval Station, Everett Police) tied to the visitor dock on the far side of the Everett Marina. I get underway and motor over to see if they can give any information regarding the vessel and where / how the vessel was taking on water. The more information I can gather at this time, the easier time it will be when it comes to removing her from the jetty. If it has a gaping hole in the side would be a different response that a broken thru hull fitting. The coasties were most helpful even though they could not get any information from the owner. He refused to abandon ship and said he was a live aboard and all of his possessions were onboard. The USCG contacted the police and had him removed against his will in order to keep him from becoming a larger emergency. I asked if the vessel owner was available so maybe I could get any information but he had been released once arriving at the dock and he disappeared with a ride from someone but no one knew for sure.
I motored across the channel and snapped some pictures of the boat, even though I couldn’t get very close since the tide was ebbing and the boat was quickly becoming high and dry for the day. I stopped and talked to the US Navy boat and the USCG some more and let them know our tentative removal plans. I returned to my slip to send photos out to our other company boat and arrange an after hours, overtime haul out at the next high tide – 0300 this morning. While filing in some paperwork in the boat, the port security guard comes down the dock asking if I know where the “guy from the boat” went. I said no and that I had no phone for him and that I hadn’t even seen or been able to talk to him yet. The guard says the guy left his dog and computers with him and he couldn’t babysit the dog all day. This story just keeps getting better by the minute. A short while later the USCG Pollution Control guys from Sector Seattle Called and said there was a reported 50 gallons of gasoline onboard and asked if I could see a sheen on the water. I told them the boat was high and dry and no sheen would be possible to see until the tide comes in. I also assured them that it was very unlikely, with the position of the boat that the tanks had been breached in any way and I would keep a watch over it. They asked if they could drive to the scene (again no local knowledge). I said I would give them a ride in the boat to the Jetty Island Park and from there we could walk down the beach approx 3/4 mile to the wreck but going directly to the wreck by boat wasn’t possible due to the shallow water. They arrived about an hour later and we made the trek down to the boat and checked her out. Here are some pictures:
The saving grace for this old girl is the fact that she had a small solid wood keel running here full length. Had the keel not been there, I’m sure the rotten hull would have easily been penetrated by the rocks she laid on. I didn’t post any pictures of the interior of this vessel. Trust me when I tell you it was EFFEN NASTY inside. Anyone who even says they lived on her is disgusting. The coasties and I did our best to turn off the power, reset the anchor as best we could, plug up the fuel vents, etc. They were concerned that the next tide, she would float her enough to pound the rocks into the hull and lose the fuel. I assured them we would have it removed at the next tide cycle and not to worry. The USCG Buoy Tender Henry Blake is moored directly across the channel about 300 yards away. The coasties said they would have the crew from the bridge watch through the binos as we removed her and keep the pollution desk informed in Seattle (great an audience!). We made the return walk down the beach and I returned them to their truck.
In the afternoon, I went to the toy store and bought a couple of nerf basketballs, the hardware store and bout a roll of aluminum roof flashing and a roll of plastic garbage sacks. I motored back over to Jetty Island and walked back down the beach for a second time.
Here is the lovely Jetty Island Beach – not quite Hawaii or Cancun is it?
If you look closely at the photo at the very end of the beach you can see a navy destroyer in the distance. If you look to the left side of the photo you can see the USCG Henry Blake and the vessel is directly across the channel from her but not visible in the photo. The buildings with the green roofing is the Everett Naval Station. With my nerf footballs and garbage bags, I was able to plug the exhausts on the boat and with the sheet metal and garbage bags, I was able to screw patches over the visible holes in the hull and reduce the speed at which water could enter the hull when the water started to ingress.
I was one whooped puppy after my second beach walk and headed home for some dinner and some sleep before the night ops began. I enlisted my good buddy Kenny (known as Flasher – he owns a fishing tackle company named Qcove that builds salmon Flashers) to help me and told him to bring his chest waders as he would be the sherpa of all the equipment. I was able to get a couple hours of sleep before the alarm went off at 2300. I picked up Flasher on the way and we geared up and headed out in the boat. It was absolutely down pouring and small craft advisory type weather. We pressed our boat up in the mud as close as possible and tossed the anchor. Flasher hauled the pumps, and towline over to the stricken vessel and we got all rigged up and pump in place. My response boat has a 2″ dewatering pump that rides 24 / 7 with the boat and it get hammered in the salty environment. I took it home in the afternoon and lubed up the impeller good and ran it for about 10 minutes to ensure I would perform when needed. The Seattle boat that was coming to help also carried a 3″ dewatering pump, but he was running late due to the nasty weather and he had about 30NM to run to get to our location. He finally arrived and we got his towline all connected and had ready with the pumps. The tide had risen and the water was filling in around the boat’s hull and my boat was completely floating again. We had Flasher start pumping and the stern started lifting after about 20 minutes of continuous pumping. When Flasher walked to the opposite side of the boat we saw the stern wobble with the weight shift so we knew it was starting to float free. Both towboats pulled gently, with me pulling from the bow and the other from the stern. The old Pacemaker popped right off the rocks and I towed to deeper water and Flasher released the stern towline from the other towboat while continuing to run the pumps. We towed her up river to the marina haul out and were a bit more than an hour ahead of schedule for our haul out at 0300. With an hour to wait, we just monitored the pumps, which had to be run about 5 minutes out of every 15 minutes to keep ahead of the water. The haul out crew arrived and lifted the boat out and we were able to get a good look at the bottom. The props were smoked and one rudder had a huge chunk out of it, but I’m fairly certain it was already like that.
In the slings:
As you can see the water is pouring out of both shaft logs. I have serious doubts that this boat was not on a planned run to be scuttled / sank to save the owner moorage fees.
Flasher & L collected all of our lines, pumps, etc. and headed home. I hit my pillow at 0430.
I wanted to wait to the end to mention another side story that happened yesterday. On one of my trips to the marina while heading West on Everett Avenue, there is a point where you crest the hill and get your first view of Puget Sound and Port Gardner Bay (Port Gardner Bay is the harbor in Everett). As I caught the first glimpse of the bay, there was an unusual amount of bright light in the moorage area and it was clear a large ship had docked. As I got closer I was awe struck as it turned out to be Edison Chouest‘s AIVIQ! I knew she was big, but holy smokes. I drove as close as could to get a picture:
The part of harbor they are docked in is patroled by the Navy as you have to basically enter the inner harbor right past the Navy ships. Tomorrow I’m going to try to take a little harbor tour and see this beast up close. If anyone has any contacts for this ship and can arrange a tour for me, I’d owe you a beer! So while laying in bed this morning, I checked Marine Traffic to make sure she hadn’t left and I got another bonus! Crowley’s biggest baddest tug, the Ocean Wave is tied up just down the dock. I’m really hoping I can slide in the harbor for some photos (I’ll even bring a real camera). Stand by to stand by and hopefully tomorrow I will have another post.