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Thread: Drfting "ghost ship" VICTORIA in Wells Passage

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    Default Drfting "ghost ship" VICTORIA in Wells Passage

    Does anyone know what the USCG's protocol is for dealing with drifting wrecks that pose a hazard to navigation, besides issuing ineffectual marine broadcasts advising mariners to "watch out"? In particular, I'm wondering about the 24-foot, green and white plywood boat that was reported (multiple times) drifting in Wells Passage and Cochrane Bay?

    This is the boat "Victoria" which I spotted upside-down on the beach, on the W side of Wells Passage, about 1 mile N of Pigot Bay, on August 9th. We launched the dinghy and went ashore for a closer look. Found the boat with a 2-foot section of the bow chainsawed off, along with 2 V-shaped cuts to the keel. Roof detached & floating in the surf. Door & other debris high on the beach. Called the Coast Guard with the name, AK #, lat/long, wanted to make sure they knew about it. Watch officer called back in 30 minutes to say they were aware of the wreck, nobody hurt, but the owner lacked the funds/initiative to retrieve it so was abandoning the vessel.

    Fast-forward to last Saturday evening, August 25th. "Diamond Princess" cruise ship departing Whittier about 8:30 p.m. calls USCG to report a capsized pleasure boat drifting somewhere off Pigot Point. Watch officer gives coordinates on 16 but no other details. Sounds like an emergency. Numerous attempts by Coastie operator to raise Princess on radio with no reply. We were 45 minutes behind Princess and deliberated up-shifting to reach the scene for a possible rescue or other elevated response, but decided they were better able to deal with it than we were.

    We can see the Princess lights fading into the distance past Perry Island, so they obviously haven't stopped to rescue anybody. An hour later, Coastie comes back on 16 with a notice to mariners about hazard to navigation, boat drifting with 6 feet of bow protruding, confirmed no one is on board, BOLO, etc. with coordinates. It's past 2200 and dark on Saturday night by now.

    Sunday morning, at least 3 separate radio calls on 16 to Sector Anchorage with sightings of the same boat, latest one inside Cochrane Bay and now 3 (not 6) feet of bow exposed. With luck, the worthy "Victoria" consigned herself to the deep not long after with the good grace to slip beneath the waves. Or perhaps she is drifting still?

    Does it sound like USCG did all that was expected in this case? Anyone have info about what happened to this boat in the first place? Looked like somebody's pride & joy, possible home-build (maybe Tolman?) but nicely done, with a Volvo 280 I/O, but puzzling about the chainsaw cuts in the hull... Maybe done by USCG to ensure no survivors trapped in overturned hull? Even with multiple breaches in hull, the doggone thing floated off on a high tide & managed to drift at least 3 miles S, maybe the owner should have salvaged it after all as apparently unsinkable!

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    This boat was called in to the coasties by at least 10 concerend boaters through the day on Saturday August 25. In the morning it was near Cochrane, in the late afternoon it was near Ester. Pretty resilient floater!

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    Time for a little gunnery practice.....

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  4. #4

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    Depends on the available CG resources. If they don't have anyone nearby to do anything with it, about all they can do for the time being is out out an NTM. The CG budgets are way down, and they're really short of people. Big deal for Alaskans, but not part of the "big picture" for the rest of the country.

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    Being wood it sounds like there is enough folatation to keep it partially afloat and it sounds like holes were cut to release trapped air and allow it to sink. Sounds like it either needs to be blown up or possibly find it on shore and burned. I herd all the NTM calls and it sounded like it was all over the place and I worte down coordinates just prior to entering Port Wells...it keeps you more alert after a long weekend.

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    Member JR2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Drfting "ghost ship" VICTORIA in Wells Passage

    I actually went and found it on Sunday Am, my little boys wanted to see the thing they had been hearing the Coast Guard talk about all weekend. I reported the position of it to the CG and went about my business.
    My favorite call of the day was the woman explaining to the CG where the thing was... One quarter of a mile inside Cochrane and about 500 ft off the beach..

    I thought about putting some more holes in it in hopes that it would sink but seeing it was made of wood I decided to save my lead.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveKL View Post
    Does anyone know what the USCG's protocol is for dealing with drifting wrecks that pose a hazard to navigation, besides issuing ineffectual marine broadcasts advising mariners to "watch out"?
    Why do you feel the CG's NTM's are "ineffectual"?
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Why do you feel the CG's NTM's are "ineffectual"?
    Using this drifting boat as the specific example, the biggest reason is that unless a boater is A) on the water that day; and B) has their radio on and pays attention to the broadcast; and C) writes down the coordinates and plots them relative to their present location and anticipated route for the day/trip, then the NTM is not going to be particularly effective in helping them avoid running into the doggone thing!

    It's pretty clear this boat was drifting around for at least a couple of days, and maybe much longer. A couple gallons of gas and a match when it was up the beach would have been a messy but 100% effective way to guarantee that it wasn't going to float off on a high tide and head back to sea under its own power, which is exactly what happened.

    When the Malaysian soybean freighter Selendang Ayu sank near Unalaska in 2004, the authorities essentially forced the owners to remove the wreck in pieces, at great expense, rather than leave it on the sea floor as an artificial reef. If some weekend boater had plowed into the drifting Wells Passage boat and sank with injury or loss of life, what good would a Notice to Mariners have done in preventing the tragedy?

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    Hey, I'm with BassKing on this one...couldn't we find at least ONE WWII holdover with enough .50cal ammo for a few runs over the top? I'd have paid good bucks just to see THAT spectacle! Heck, the YouTube views alone would have paid for the fuel, right?!

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    Default Drfting "ghost ship" VICTORIA in Wells Passage

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveKL View Post
    When the Malaysian soybean freighter Selendang Ayu sank near Unalaska in 2004, the authorities essentially forced the owners to remove the wreck in pieces, at great expense, rather than leave it on the sea floor as an artificial reef
    The State funded the project of cleanup and recovery. Magone did the salvage work.

    Best **** summer ever. Who knew 2-300# halibut liked soybeans.

    Somewhere I have pics of a 21ft skiff inside the front sectional tank of the hull at slack tide.
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveKL View Post
    Using this drifting boat as the specific example, the biggest reason is that unless a boater is A) on the water that day; and B) has their radio on and pays attention to the broadcast; and C) writes down the coordinates and plots them relative to their present location and anticipated route for the day/trip, then the NTM is not going to be particularly effective in helping them avoid running into the doggone thing!

    It's pretty clear this boat was drifting around for at least a couple of days, and maybe much longer. A couple gallons of gas and a match when it was up the beach would have been a messy but 100% effective way to guarantee that it wasn't going to float off on a high tide and head back to sea under its own power, which is exactly what happened.

    When the Malaysian soybean freighter Selendang Ayu sank near Unalaska in 2004, the authorities essentially forced the owners to remove the wreck in pieces, at great expense, rather than leave it on the sea floor as an artificial reef. If some weekend boater had plowed into the drifting Wells Passage boat and sank with injury or loss of life, what good would a Notice to Mariners have done in preventing the tragedy?
    I have to agree with SteveKL. Why do we force larger, mostly commercial boats to pay to have their boats salvaged when they run aground but not a recreational boater? Why if you run into a tree on the highway do you have to pay to have your car/truck, removed and towed back to town but not your boat when you run aground? Just seems like if you run aground you should salvage the mess it created instead of leaving the trash. Worse, in this case it has become a navigational hazard and I can tell you if it caused a problem for me and my family the owner would be hearing about it and in my opinion should be paying for my repairs.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveKL View Post
    Using this drifting boat as the specific example, the biggest reason is that unless a boater is A) on the water that day; and B) has their radio on and pays attention to the broadcast; and C) writes down the coordinates and plots them relative to their present location and anticipated route for the day/trip, then the NTM is not going to be particularly effective in helping them avoid running into the doggone thing!...
    But If I am on the water, I will have my radio on and be paying attention. That's part of the responsibility that comes with being on the water. And I for one greatly appreciate the service provided by the CG, including but not limited to NTM's. I also take responsibility for my own activities and don't expect the government or anyone else to protect me from running into drifting hazards.
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    I heard much of the radio traffic on this over two days. From what I heard it was a small boat and the navigational issues would be similiar a floating log. Not sure we could expect the USCG to tow all of the logs out of PWS. I'm wondering about the fuel on board.
    Ruby at the end of a good day.

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    Member Alaskanmutt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveKL View Post
    A couple gallons of gas and a match when it was up the beach would have been a messy but 100% effective way to guarantee that it wasn't going to float off on a high tide and head back to sea under its own power, which is exactly what happened.
    Since it was obviously below Mean High Water, it would have been up to DNR to deal with it. If it was fiberglass covered, well that is hazardous to burn and leaves a residue. The metal and non wood parts would have had to be stripped out and removed back to Whittier for disposal, If it is floating then it falls to the CG. Punching holes in it won't nessecarily make it sink. It the engine and other heavy equipment had been removed (sounds like it was) then it is a chunk of fiberglass covered wood, which floats no matter how many holes it has in it.

    Year ago when the SS Lloyd Bermuda went down we were tasked to sink some of the containers that were floating in the sea lanes. We punched holes in one with the .50's , 2 belts worth. Dang thing wouldn't sink, just bobbed up and down with water shooting out the holes everytime it would drop down swell. We had a Lloyd Bermuda crew member on board, he said " I wonder if that is one of the ones with the styrofoam in it?"

    Seriously?
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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    I for one greatly appreciate the service provided by the CG, including but not limited to NTM's. I also take responsibility for my own activities and don't expect the government or anyone else to protect me from running into drifting hazards.
    I agree with you 100%, and don't for a moment mean to imply that I need or expect Big Bro on the water (or anywhere else) protecting me from myself. At the same time, having USCG at the ready to assist in an emergency is a huge bonus for boaters everywhere, and their NTMs can be helpful and informative.

    However, if your car breaks down on the road, you don't get to leave it in traffic and have the Troopers put out an alert that says "Look out! Stalled vehicle blocking traffic ahead!" They come and get it, and if you want it back, you'll have to pay towing and storage fees. If it breaks down and you coast to the shoulder, out of traffic, you'll be able to leave it in the public right-of-way for only a short period of time before the cops impound it. But it's okay to leave your disabled boat on the beach, or drifting at sea?

    My point is that for a known problem boat, with multiple reports over time, it would be nice if there could be a more definitive response to the hazard than only broadcasting a NTM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaskanmutt View Post
    It the engine and other heavy equipment had been removed (sounds like it was) then it is a chunk of fiberglass covered wood, which floats no matter how many holes it has in it.
    When I saw it on the beach, there was a Volvo outdrive w/prop still on it, and I assumed the engine was there as well. Someone could have recovered that before it drifted off. An earlier poster speculated that perhaps the chainsawed bow plus the holes cut in the hull were intended to keep it from floating off. When I heard that the boat was floating bow-up, I wondered how it could do that with the weight of the engine & drive and no air pocket in the nose--maybe there was some spray foam I couldn't see, or a big enough fuel tank or empty water tank to support the rest of the hulk.

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    Member Alaskanmutt's Avatar
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    My bad, I thought the drive equip had been removed.
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    Member JR2's Avatar
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    I have some photos of it floating over by the entrance to Culross, I will post them up tomorrow..

    The boat was made of wood... wood floats no matter how many holes you put it in. Add in some foam in there somewhere and I don't think it would ever sink.

    Anyone know if its still floating around or if it went back up on some rocks somewhere??
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