A 28-foot sailboat sank after it was struck by the Hyak ferry on Sept. 13. The lone occupant, a man in his mid-60s, was taken to Peace Island Hospital on San Juan Island but did not sustain major injuries.
Several eyewitnesses reported that the ferry collided with a sailboat called the Norma Rae. At around 2 p.m, Suzanne Lyons saw the mast of the Norma Rae crack and heard the screeching of the sailboat hitting the side of the ferry.
“An older man was sitting on the boat as it was sinking,” said Lyons, who was in her car at the time of the incident.
The ferry left Anacortes at 12:35 p.m. and landed on Lopez at 1:30 p.m. Another witness on the ferry, Michael Bried, said the accident occurred after the boat left Lopez and was heading toward Orcas.
“The sailboat was a mile north of Lopez in the middle of the shipping lane,” said Bried.
A Fish and Wildlife boat towed the sailboat away, but it later sank in 250 feet of water.
“I don’t know why the ferry pilot didn’t see the sailboat,” Bried said. “It was a clear day.”
The accident forced the cancellation of the 2:20 p.m. sailing from Orcas to Anacortes.
Washington State Ferries representatives could not be reached by this press time. The incident is under investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard.