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Thread: Rescue in Prince William Sound

  1. #1

    Default Rescue in Prince William Sound

    Copy of email sent to the State of Alaska.

    On the afternoon 6/8/2008 my wife and I were involved in a rescue approxitmatly 3 miles north east of whittier in Passage Canal. We were returning from a weekend outing in Prince Willam Sound, When the State ferry M/V Chenega contacted the Coast Guard stating People were in the water and they were launching thier fast boat for rescue.
    We were less than a mile away when we heard the call and immediatly headed for their location. The fast boat from the M/V Chenega and my vessel reached A Man, women and child clinging to a deflated rubber raft, all were wearing Life Jackets. The fast boat swiftly motored next to the victims and snatched them out of the water, and then quickly returned to the M/V Chenega where they hoisted the fast boat with the victims and crew still in the boat onto the main deck. through radio transmissions we ascertained that all victims were accounted for. The M/V chenega then began to treat the victims as they headed back to port. We began removing debris from the water and returned to Whittier Harbor and left what we could collect at the fuel dock.
    My wife and I would like to commend the crew of the M/V Chenega for their professional and quick response rescuing those people from the icy waters and sure death. It is comforting to know that the ferry crews are so well trained and equipped to respond to emergencies in the waters of Alaska.. Thank you for your time in this matter. end letter.

    I have not heard any details as to the cause. I did hear their dog did not make it.

  2. #2
    Mark
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    Default

    Wow!

    Kudos to the M/V Chenega!

  3. #3
    Member Tolman24's Avatar
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    Default Dogs

    I have a black lab and white boxer that often go out with me. I have dog preservers fit to each dog. I pray that I never have the need to use them or the ones for the rest of the family. The water is cold whether you are man or beast.

  4. #4
    Member Jimw's Avatar
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    Two thumbs up for the crew of the M/V Chenega!!!!!

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    Thanks for posting here. Dittos on the PFD's for the dogs.

  6. #6

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    My dad and mom were coming in at that same time a few miles further out. He heard the call for the Coast Guard and switched over to 22 to listen in. There wasn't a lot said on the radio from what he heard other than the obvious. He saw the boat circling around picking up debris but new that the people had already been pulled out.

    He told me that the wind was extremely fierce at that time in that area of the passage. Said that the waves weren't that tall but just a really severe wind on the water. I guess it was pretty nasty at the boat launch trying to get to the dock safely with the boats. He helped three or four people get to the dock while he waited his turn in line and said it was definitely a challenge keeping things from getting banged up.

    He was glad to hear that the three people made it out ok, having been a harbormaster for nearly 15 years, he's seen his share of catastrophe's and didn't like the looks at what was unfolding in front of him as he listened on the radio too far away to help.

  7. #7
    Member mit's Avatar
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    Well for once it wasn't the ferry needing help
    Tim

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    Member DMan's Avatar
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    Watched this on the news last night. I am wondering if it was a jet boat. I heard it was blowing but the water wasn't that bad and these guys were on the back side of the waves headed out so they should have been even better off. Thinking jet boat has low sides and low bow and some even have even lower transoms.

    Be kinda nice to know 'what went wrong' so we could all learn from it. The guy said it all happened in a minute and a half...... Glad they are safe..
    ... aboard the 'Memory Maker' Making Memories one Wave at a Time!

  9. #9

    Default I passed a little john boat Sunday, off Pigot Point

    12-14 inchs of freeboard, straight sided, raised seats- looks like a disater waiting to happen.
    I am glad they are OK.
    Rob

  10. #10
    Member DMan's Avatar
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    Default

    Heard it may have been a barrowed boat?
    ... aboard the 'Memory Maker' Making Memories one Wave at a Time!

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    Default survivor

    This is one of the floaters. Theres was no dog our nephews nickname is O'Dog. The boat was borrowed from my brother who was not there. Jet boats arent the ideal ocean boat, but do work on a good day. This was not a good day. Thanks to the guy who picked up our debri. The halibut made it home,and my wife is excited that I will be there for the birth of our daughter. AMEN!!! Thank you Chenega!

  12. #12
    Member akfun's Avatar
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    Default

    sunday seas were bumpy but not bad, was a little windy but we went to montague and had no problems, came back at 20 mph didn't get beat to death till we hit passage canal. didn't hear the call but have seen alot of accidents waiting to happen out there, lake boats and flat bottoms i try to watch and give alot of space. last year had someone almost run into me in a small flat bottom. some people do not know rules of the road or even have the common sense not to take a small lake boat out into the ocean water.
    everyone should always keep an eye out for trouble and be ready to lend a helping hand, if i heard i would have headed that way in a hurry.

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    Default what went wrong

    Quote Originally Posted by DMan View Post
    Watched this on the news last night. I am wondering if it was a jet boat. I heard it was blowing but the water wasn't that bad and these guys were on the back side of the waves headed out so they should have been even better off. Thinking jet boat has low sides and low bow and some even have even lower transoms.

    Be kinda nice to know 'what went wrong' so we could all learn from it. The guy said it all happened in a minute and a half...... Glad they are safe..
    We were getting the worst of it cause we were coming in to whittier. The bow of the boat was to big and held to much water it couldnt bail its self quick enough. The waves went from 3 to 6 in one good gust and after about 4 good waves in a row we took on way to much to float. Thank God for the Chenega!!!!!!

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    Member DMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chenegasurvivor View Post
    We were getting the worst of it cause we were coming in to whittier. The bow of the boat was to big and held to much water it couldnt bail its self quick enough. The waves went from 3 to 6 in one good gust and after about 4 good waves in a row we took on way to much to float. Thank God for the Chenega!!!!!!
    PRAISE THE LORD YOU ARE HERE TO TELL THE STORY!!! Glad you are dry and safe. I know what you are talking about. I took about 6 six footers in a row over my bow two falls ago in my Ocean Pro. That boat handled it pretty well but it was still pucker factor and I had about 2 inches of water running around the floor :O !!!
    ... aboard the 'Memory Maker' Making Memories one Wave at a Time!

  15. #15
    Member Queen of Kings's Avatar
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    Default ChenegaSurvior

    Blessed are you and your your family, glad you all made it back ok! Thanks for sharing
    2003 220 Hewescraft Sea Runner 115 Yam'y, Soft Top "Schmidt Happens"

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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Chenegasurvivor View Post
    We were getting the worst of it cause we were coming in to whittier. The bow of the boat was to big and held to much water it couldnt bail its self quick enough. The waves went from 3 to 6 in one good gust and after about 4 good waves in a row we took on way to much to float. Thank God for the Chenega!!!!!!

    Not to pry but how about a little more info.....boat manufacture, size, year, type power, bilge pump(auto/manual), fuel load, boat load, how long in the water, distress message sent, etc, etc.

    Just trying to get some info to see if maybe it could have been averted. To help someone else in the future. Most all have a story just few willing to tell.

    I too have taken a couple over the bow of my 2859. Actually to the lower set of windows once....thank God for the hard top as we shed most of the water back overboard. But about the same deal, 3 footers and then next thing I know I am looking at the sky and then a big drop into a narrow valley. Ripped my anchor off along with it's tie out cleat. Now could only idle ahead while we tried to reboat the anchor. Good thing my 1st Mate kept everything under control and kept the nose into the waves while I was out on the deck bringing the anchor back onboard. Thought I was going to have to cut it loose.

    I always make sure that I have at least one other person I can trust to run the boat in an emergency. Even my 12 year old knows what all the controls are for and how to make them work, to include proper use of the radio.

    I am glad to hear you are OK and I am really glad you came here to post about it. Now educate us all from 1st hand experience.

  17. #17

    Default

    I'm glad to hear everyone is ok and there was no dog onboard. We spent about an hour picking up gas cans and cooler items and searching for a dog with the Aux Safe boat. I guess when people ask about taking a small flat bottom boats out of Whittier we can reference this thread. Glad everyone is safe.

  18. #18
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    Default Open Bow?

    Survivor - It sounds like your boat was one with an open bow for seating, or what I call a bathtub bow. I was always leary of these boats for the exact reason you relate - the bow fills with water from a wave and you're done. The right boat for unexpected conditions is what the Sound requires. Glassy water days turn nasty pretty quick. Good to hear you all got out OK and you'll live to see your daughter born.

    There are a lot of other boaters out there ready to help like the Chenega. One piece of gear vital to have is a VHF radio. It's not Coast Guard required gear but there's nothing more important in my mind when you get yourself in a fix.

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    Default Passage Canal rescue

    I think there are some very serious lessons learned here....too often, we have boating accidents in Alaska where people die; 6 recreational boating fatalities so far this year. There are some obvious lessons learned when the accidents are reviewed, especially with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. Like most boaters, I would very much prefer to learn from others' mistakes rather than making my own. Unfortunately, most people cannot build a 'mental model' of knowlege except through experience....and it's the experience that can be deadly. I would guarantee that people who have lived through the terrifying experience of a capsizing/sinking/overboard situation in Alaska have a different tolerance level and perception of the risks than those of us who have only talked or read about it. The challenges are for the rest of us to effectively 'learn the lessons' without the actual experience. This forum only consists of words and a few pictures....nowhere can you see, touch, taste or feel the actual experience of going overboard in 45 degree water and 6' seas....so, with the understanding that the impact of anything I write here will only have a (comparatively) minimal effect on boater's attitude/behaviors, I'll forge ahead anyway!
    1) Match the boat to the water and the event (mission). Several years ago, before the tunnel opened to vehicular traffic into Whittier, the Coast Guard convened a Task Force. This was a multi-agency effort with community participation and the concerns voiced by the task force included yours truly doing a couple of media appearances talking about the anticipated 'rush' of smaller (trailerable) boats that were expected to invade western Prince William Sound. The Auxiliary was a big player and since the Coast Guard doesn't have a permanent presence in Whittier, the Auxiliary was tasked with preparing for the (potentially) unprepared boaters. The Auxiliary SAFEBoat was purchased (the first SAFEBoat in the nation purchased for the Auxiliary by the Coast Guard - now there are three more in Alaska, four in Hawaii, and at least one in California and I think some other Districts as well; a very successful program!). The old railroad caboose was turned into a Station and the Whittier Flotilla worked diligently with the recreational boating population in the Sound. Many others have also contributed to the safety in the Sound including the City of Whittier, NOAA, NWS, DOT and DNR. The smaller boats arrived in droves and despite the increased 'threat', fatalities in western PWS haven't happened...this particular event shows just how close people can get to dying; I would guess that had the CHENEGA not been in close proximity, we might have been discussing three fatalities rather than three survivors.
    2) Watch the weather very closely! One calm evening in Whittier Harbor, we heard a low noise very much like a jet in the distance...it grew louder and louder. Within 15 minutes, the harbor was buffeted by 50-60 knot winds. The CAPE IALIK was moored outside the harbor and was blown off it's moorings when the cleats snapped. It went aground at Whittier Creek in minutes with no one on board. We spent most of the evening tying up boats in the harbor. Imagine getting caught in that! The lesson learned is to monitor the weather closely and have a secure spot to duck into if you need to. Boaters in the Sound with experience will know when to go and when not to.
    3) Have a means of communication on your PFD! Here's one we don't talk about all the time...mostly we just talk about wearing your PFD. What's in your PFD is the most important. First of all, YOU should be in your PFD! (along with a handheld VHF radio (charged battery, of course!), Flares, whistle, knife and PEPIRB.) Incidentally, this is exactly what I carry in mine. If you boat solo, this equipment is critical. We often ran with another boat in the Sound and it was a good feeling to look over and see a potential rescuer so close! Additional thermal protection can also be critical; a person in street clothes might expect to survive 3-15 minutes; with a PFD, up to an hour or more. Mustang suit might add another hour, a dry suit could help you survive several hours and a full survival suit can help you survive for many hours, even days sometimes. The trick is to buy yourself time to be rescued...and facilitate your own rescue with those items that stay with you when you hit the drink....or better yet, avoid going into the water in the first place by making good decisions ahead of time.

    In this particular case, several things went right once a few things went wrong. These were very lucky people and I'm certain they would agree. I understand that they were all wearing their lifejackets and I'd guess that the outcome could have been tragically different if they had not been 'buckled up'. Getting caught in bad weather happens often in Alaska; I once spent 5 days on Naked Island on a fall deer hunt when we had 60 knot sustained winds....not pretty, but at least we made a good decision to stay anchored up rather than 'beat' our way back.

    Boat smart and boat safe!

    Mike

  20. #20
    Member AKBassking's Avatar
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    Default Thanks

    Mike. You give good advice.

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