Wednesday, 16 October 2019

VIDEO: Damages from runaway yacht still being investigated

PORT ANGELES — William Bohannon’s sailboat was damaged this week by a runaway yacht.
But he’s still feeling lucky.
The San Diego resident’s 33-footer was tied up at the Port Angeles Boat Haven when, without warning, a 260-ton, 125-foot Westport LLC pleasure craft took off at full throttle from a fuel dock about 300 feet away.
“Good thing I wasn’t on board during the accident since my bunk was right next to the smashed-in window and crushed hull area,” Bohannon said Tuesday in an email.
“It used to be quite seaworthy.
“Now windows are smashed and there’s a big crack right in the middle of the hull — don’t know if it’s even repairable.”
No one was injured in the crash that damaged three sailboats, a power boat, and a an aluminum SR3 marine wildlife and rehabilitation research vessel.

“The aluminum marine research vessel got crunched pretty well, and there was a white and yellow sailboat next to the research vessel that may be a total loss due to the fiberglass damage,” John Nutter, port director of property, marinas and airports.
The Boat Haven is owned by the port.
Nutter’s assessment was contained in an email Monday afternoon to Westport General Manager David Hagiwara. 
The extent of damage to the yacht was unknown Thursday. Hagiwara has not returned calls for comment about the incident.
“We have a surveyor here today and he will be looking at our boat,” Hagiwara told Nutter on Wednesday in an email.
The Westport 125 also took out much of the port’s G-H dock, one of nine moorage piers at the Port of Port Angeles facility just west of downtown Port Angeles.
When the yacht accelerated, a mooring rope broke and a couple of cleats were ripped out of the dock.
The main dock also buckled, Nutter said.
The crash removed six moorage spots, Nutter said.
Port officials said the collision caused more than $100,000 in damage.
Nutter said Thursday a damage estimate of port property will not be known until an insurance company draws up an estimate.
Owners of boats that were damaged are being told to talk to Westport, Nutter said.
The 2020 yacht, valued at about $24 million to $25 million, is owned by Westport.
It was at the fuel dock pending fuel-up and delivery to a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., customer when it suddenly accelerated at about 8:15 a.m., Clallam County Sheriff’s Office and port officials said.
Brian King, sheriff’s office chief criminal deputy, said Thursday it appears an electronic malfunction occurred on the yacht and that the acceleration was unintentional.
The crash is being investigated by the sheriff’s office marine unit.
“It was full-throttle propulsion moving forward,” King said.
Six Westport employees, including the captain, were on board when the boat, moving slowly forward, accelerated.
“We know the captain was in the process of electronically switching from one control to the next control when the boat took off.
“There was some type of malfunction that occurred there.”
Nutter said the propulsion system is electronically controlled.
Nutter said he did not know if the yacht’s motor was running when it accelerated.
The yacht, so new it lacked a name, had been moored in the marina for the past couple of months.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@

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