Tags: whale-watching | boat | capsize | rogue | wave

Whale-Watching Boat Capsize Being Blamed on Rogue Wave

Image: Whale-Watching Boat Capsize Being Blamed on Rogue Wave
The overturned Leviathan II had 30 people aboard. (Twitter)

By    |   Thursday, 29 Oct 2015 06:18 AM

A rogue wave struck a Canadian whale-watching boat on the side opposite where most of the 27 passengers on bard were standing, causing the vessel to tilt and roll over off Vancouver Island. 

Five British nationals were killed, and the search continued for a missing Australian man. Twenty-one people were rescued after the Leviathan II capsized Sunday afternoon, reported The Associated Press.

Marc Andre Poisson, Director of Marine Investigations for Canada's Transportation Safety Board, said Tuesday that having so many people on the left side of the boat "raised the center of gravity."

"We know that most passengers were on the top deck on the port side, that's the left side of the vessel. This would have raised the center of gravity, affecting the vessel's stability," Poisson said at a news conference in Tofino.

"We also know that the sea conditions were such that a wave approached from the starboard quarter, that's the right of the vessel. We know that the vessel broached and then capsized."

He said investigators have now interviewed the three crew members and some of the passengers. One life raft deployed and was used, he said. The full investigation is expected to take months.

Coroner Matt Brown said a preliminary investigation suggests those who died were on the top part of the boat and that they weren't wearing life-jackets because it's not required in the type of vessel they were in.

Investigators will review the weather, wreckage and the maintenance history of the 65-feet boat to determine why it capsized, said Poisson.

A senior employee of Jamie's Whaling Station, the company operating the boat, said the vessel sank so quickly the crew didn't have time to issue a mayday call. The crew shot flares from the water which attracted the attention of local aboriginal fishermen who rushed to help rescue people, said Corene Inouye, the company's director of operations.

The boat capsized about eight nautical miles off Tofino, a popular destination for whale watchers that is at the very tip of a peninsula some 200 miles northwest of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia.

Fisherman Clarence Smith said he was reeling his lines for halibut when his friend saw a flare shoot in the sky. They raced to the scene in their small boat, and saw people in life rafts, in the water, and on rocks. They first helped a man who was clinging to the side of the boat, taking eight minutes to get him on board. He was unresponsive, and tangled in a line.

Then they rescued two women who were clinging to each other, and finally got 10 people on the life raft onto their boat. Among those they picked up were a pregnant woman and a woman with a broken leg.

"The lady was saying that a wave just capsized them. That's why there weren't any communications on the radio, no mayday," Smith said.

Jamie Bray, the owner of Jamie's Whaling Station, said the boat sank in an area it goes to every day. He said he is cooperating with investigators to determine what caused the boat to flip over. He said the boat has operated for 20 years "with an absolutely perfect safety record."

One of the company's boats also had a fatal accident in 1998. The vessel capsized during an excursion, leaving an operator and a passenger dead. Bray said that vessel was struck by a rogue wave but said the latest incident involved a much larger boat.

Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Tuesday confirmed that an Australian man was missing. Australian Associated Press reported that the 27 year-old Sydney man's family said he was on the boat with his girlfriend and her family when it sank. His girlfriend's father was among the dead, AAP said.

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A rogue wave struck a Canadian whale-watching boat on the side opposite where most of the 27 passengers on bard were standing, causing the vessel to tilt and roll over off Vancouver Island.
whale-watching, boat, capsize, rogue, wave
Thursday, 29 Oct 2015 06:18 AM
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