Twenty-four passengers and crew aboard a Ucluelet whale watching boat were towed safely to shore on Saturday morning, July 30, after the adventure vessel grounded and started taking on water.
The 50-foot MV Chinook Princess, part of the Jamie’s Whaling Station fleet, ran into trouble in Coaster Channel near Turret Island within the Broken Group Islands at approximately 11:00 a.m.
“It is believed either a rock or a submerged log came into contact with the stern of the vessel. This contact led to a small leak in the rudder seal, which was successfully managed by the onboard pumps. The crew assessed the damage and decided to contact the Coast Guard,” said Jamie’s Whaling Station general manager Adam Doolittle in an email.
The CCGS Cape McKay out of the Canadian Coast Guard’s (CCG) Bamfield Lifeboat Station assisted with the rescue, as did volunteers with Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RCMSAR) 38 out of Ucluelet. Multiple vessels of opportunity also responded to the distress broadcast over Channel 16, including a Parks Canada vessel.
“On behalf of the Canadian Coast Guard, we would like to thank all the vessels of opportunity who responded and assisted in the rescue of the persons onboard the MV Chinook Princess in co-ordination with our crew from the Bamfield Lifeboat Station. We would especially like to recognize the professionalism of our marine response partners at Parks Canada and RCMSAR who work with us to keep mariners safe on the west coast of Vancouver Island,” said Maria McCooey, CCG superintendent, Search and Rescue, in an email.
Doolittle says the Chinook Princess arrived at the Ucluelet Harbour at about 2:30 p.m.
“The safety of our passengers and crew has always been the No. 1 priority at Jamie’s. These exact situations are the ones our crew frequently train for with our routine safety drills. It was this training that prevented the incident from escalating further as the crew properly assessed and acted on the situation,” said Doolittle.