Excursion boat with 139 aboard runs aground off Maine coast

The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating why a 65-foot excursion boat, with 139 people aboard, ran aground in Maine’s Boothbay Harbor.

Argo ran aground in Boothbay Harbor on June 22. Fog limited visibility to about 200 yards at the time. The excursion boat was able to free itself without assistance. (Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard)

Argo, carrying 136 passengers and three crewmembers, grounded in foggy conditions near Spruce Point on June 22. The vessel was on its way to a clambake on nearby Cabbage Island.

At the time of the grounding, seas were calm with winds around 10 mph. Visibility was 200 yards. The Coast Guard said all of the vessel’s electronic navigation equipment, which included radar, was working properly at the time of the grounding.

The tide was going out, but low tide was still a few hours away. Argo‘s draft is 8 feet.

The vessel refloated without assistance and returned to port for inspection. No damage was found and there were no injuries or pollution associated with the grounding.

According to the Coast Guard, the incident occurred at about 1200 near the Spruce Point Buoy No. 2. Coast Guard Station Boothbay Harbor received a radio call from Argo reporting that it had run aground. The Coast Guard responded with a 25-foot boat and a 47-foot boat. The boats stood by as the vessel refloated on the rising tide.

Argo then proceeded to the Cabbage Island clambake, escorted by the Maine Marine Patrol. The Coast Guard said a diver inspected the hull for damage at the Cabbage Island dock. The vessel had grounded on its steel keel shoe and no damage was found.

Argo and its passengers then returned to the Fisherman’s Wharf in Boothbay Harbor, where the vessel was inspected by investigators from the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Office in South Portland. The inspection concurred with the earlier inspection at the Cabbage Island dock and the vessel was deemed safe and returned to service.

The Coast Guard’s Aids to Navigation Unit verified the position of the buoys in the area, Spruce Point Buoy No. 1 and Spruce Point Buoy No. 2, and determined that “they are on station and watching properly.•bCrLf

Argo, built in 1944, is owned by Cabbage Island Clambakes of Boothbay Harbor. Neither the captain nor company officials would comment on the grounding.

The cause of the grounding is still under investigation.

John Snyder

By Professional Mariner Staff