Journal of the San Juan Islands


Sailboat runs aground, sinks near Obstruction Island

September 25, 2013 · Updated 4:04 PM

Listing to one side, a 30-foot sailboat that ran aground near Obstruction Island the night before sank in the early morning hours of Sept. 21 when a rising tide filled its cabin with water. / Contributed photo/Vessel Assist

A 30-foot sailboat remains submerged off the northeast shore of Obstruction Island, with the top of its mast poking about six feet above the water, after it struck a reef during a low tide late Friday and ran aground.

Piloted at the time by a father and son, the "Baujoulais" was en route to Olga from Anacortes when it ran aground at about 8:30 p.m., Sept. 20. Neither father or son were familiar with the area and its navigational hazards, according to Captain Deb Fritz of Towline Marine/Vessel Assist Friday Harbor.

"They called us that night to talk about their options," Fritz said. "I guess they decided to wait it out and hope that it would re-float with the high tide. Sometimes they do, but not all the time."

The sinking of the Baujoulais marks the second mishap involving a sailboat in the San Juans in about a week's time. The Norma Rae, a 28-foot sailboat, sank Sept. 13 while in tow after it was struck and heavily damaged in a collision with a ferry boat in Upright Channel.

The cabin of the boat, listing to one side, began to fill with water as a rising tide swept through Obstruction Channel early the next morning. Vessel Assist responded to the scene Saturday, at about 5 a.m., after receiving a call from the United States Coast Guard that the grounded boat had become an unsafe situation for the two boaters.

The father and son were ordered off the boat by the Coast Guard, and were transported to Friday Harbor by the Vessel Assist crew. Fritz said that two men were unable to retrieve numerous personal belongings stored inside the boat's cabin, such as wallets, clothes and car keys, before it became inundated with water.

"When we got to Friday Harbor we gave them some money and socks, and then they were on their way," she said.

The sailboat boat reportedly is uninsured.

A Coast Guard spokesman said the owner of the sunken vessel must make arrangements to have it removed from its resting place.

"The owner will have to make contact with someone to salvage his boat," the spokesman said. "Right now it's sitting outside the channel with its mast sticking out above the water."

— Scott Rasmussen



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