Logging boat rescues 2 after tug sinks in swift Fraser River currents

Two crewmen were rescued from British Columbia’s fast-moving Fraser River after their tugboat sank while the river was swollen during a spring freshet.

River Queen was sailing near the Delta Cedar Products sawmill when it capsized at 0830 on June 2. The 230-hp vessel was dragged down when the strong current caused the tow to overtake the tug, investigators said.

Bill Dutrizac, a senior investigator at Canada’s Transportation Safety Board, said River Queen was delivering a log boom from Annacis Island to the sawmill when it got into trouble.

“They got in some slack water and the current caught the boom itself. The boom went past them and they got girded over,†Dutrizac said. “They were girded over on the starboard side and they sank in about 10 feet of water.â€

River Queen was just outside Delta Cedar Products sawmill when it capsized. A boom boat operator from Delta Cedar Products witnessed the sinking and rushed to rescue the pair, said Marc Proulx at the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria.

“They had only been in the water for a few seconds as the boat sank so close to the mill that their own boom boats went out,†Proulx said. “It happened right off the mill and they had the people on board almost simultaneously.â€

The investigators didn’t know if the victims were wearing life vests. Proulx said the Rescue Coordination Centre’s involvement was essentially to call an ambulance, as the rescue had already occurred when the report was received.

“We heard from Victoria Coast Guard that a fellow from Delta Cedar Products had called and said that a tug had sunk and a Delta Cedar tug had recovered the two people on board,†Proulx said.

The two River Queen crewmen were uninjured, but the crew at Delta Cedar Products convinced them to accept medical attention. The British Columbia ambulance service took the duo to a hospital for observation, and they were released.

The owner of River Queen is Forrest Marine Ltd. in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Representatives for Forrest Marine and Delta Cedar Products declined to comment on the incident.

River Queen is registered at 25 feet long, with a gross tonnage of 8.8 tons. The vessel was built by John Manly Ltd. in Vancouver in 1972.

The steel carvel/flush hull River Queen has an 11.1-foot beam and a draft of 5.75 feet.

The exact circumstances of the accident are still under investigation. The vessel was recovered and was undergoing unspecified repairs in July.

Michel Drouin

By Professional Mariner Staff