The East Jefferson Fire Rescue vessel, Volunteer, is battered every time it responds to emergencies in treacherous weather. It’s last mission likely caused a small crack in the hull which led to its sinking at the dock overnight.
The nine-inch-long-crack was found about seven feet from the bow on the port side, and runs abeam the keel. There was no visible way to for the crew to detect the crack when they docked the boat for the night; but it was in fact taking on water in the hidden area between the self-bailing deck and the hull.
Once the area between the deck and the hull filled with enough water it sunk to a level where water could then enter the scuppers, which normally would allow water to escape from the vessel, but at that level it simply allowed the water to flood in and likely it sunk quickly; while the outboard and cabin rolled to the point where the dock lines prevented it from sinking completely to the depths.
We arrived on CASCADE (fitted with a crane). The diver placed lifting straps to each side of the stern on the cleats. The crane righted it and raised the stern. The two lift bags were placed and inflated to raise the bow. Once it was raised to the gunnel it was dewatered. Pumps were kept aboard and Vessel Assist used their small vessel, Red Duck, to move it to the haul out.
Once Volunteer was secured on the trailer I noticed the water seeping from the inconspicuous crack.
If it had been fitted with a bilge pump in that area, the pump action would have indicated water was coming in and alerted its crew to the problem before it took on the water that sunk it; perhaps then Volunteer wouldn’t have met this maritime tragedy.
We are pleased to have successfully removed the styrofoam encased concrete dock from one of the most picturesque beaches of the U.S.; it was a somber reminder of the great loss of life that resulted from the tsunami in Japan. in the process we saved pieces of the dock that will be returned to Japan, though a small gesture we hope to show respect to a nation mourning.
The dock was a master of construction. we marveled at its sturdy engineering, yet we cursed it as it resisted dismantling to the last piece.
Captain Jack (John) Nesset
76’ passenger ferry, Rich Passage 1, is salvaged, refloated and towed to Port Townsend. Salvage Master, Captain Jack and The Undersea Company provided a salvage plan utilizing several components of local vessels. The 78 foot tug, Red Bluff, owned by Star Marine, actually did the honors of pulling the high and dry ferry back into the bay at the high tide of January 29. The other vessels then carried on with handling the tow to Port Townsend. They included the Ed Nelson of Western Workboats and the two Marine Assist of Port Hadlock vessels, Gabriel and Ultimate.
The ferry, owned by Kitsap Transit, was originally headed to Port Townsend to be hauled out when it missed the south entrance to Port Hadlock Canal and went on the West side. Fortunately that side is a gravel bar as opposed to the other side of the canal being jagged basalt rock. It had run up just at high tide in the darkness at 0530 January 28. It was so high-and-dry that it was in the driftwood level.