24 rescued after whale-watching boat ran aground near Ucluelet

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Times Colonist Twenty-one passengers and three crew members had to be disembarked from a whale-watching vessel after it began to take on water off the west coast of Vancouver Island on Saturday.

Times Colonist

Twenty-one passengers and three crew members had to be disembarked from a whale-watching vessel after it began to take on water off the west coast of Vancouver Island on Saturday.

The 15-metre MV Chinook Princess, owned by Jamie’s Whaling Station, either struck a rock or made contact with a submerged log near Turret Island in the Broken Group Islands, southeast of Ucluelet, 11 a.m., said general manager Adam Doolittle.

“This contact resulted in a small leak in the rudder seal, which was successfully managed by the onboard pumps,” Doolittle said.

He said the crew assessed the damage and contacted the Canadian Coast Guard with a distress call.

Steve Payne, a member of Royal Canadian Navy Search and Rescue Station 38 based in Ucluelet, said multiple vessels were involved in getting the passengers off the boat and bringing them safely ashore.

They included the RCMP, the Canadian Coast Guard Cape McKay from Bamfield and a Parks Canada rescue boat.

The Canadian Coast Guard said there were several other “vessels of opportunity” responding to the distress.

Payne said the whale-watching vessel was taking on water and was out of service, but “the pumps were keeping pace”.

There were no injuries and “the whole rescue went like clockwork,” he said.

The Chinook Princess was towed into Ucluelet Harbor on Saturday afternoon after unloading passengers.

Doolittle thanked everyone who helped rescue passengers and crew and credited crew safety training for preventing the situation from escalating.

“These exact situations are ones our crew practice frequently with our routine safety drills,” he said.

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