San Francisco tour boat gashed while sailing too close to island

A party boat struck a shoal near Alcatraz Island during a flood tide in San Francisco Bay, interrupting a beer-tasting cruise.

Neptune, a 45-foot cabin top cruiser, was hosting a bachelor party Oct. 13, 2012, when it got too close to the north side of Alcatraz Island and struck a shoal. The U.S. Coast Guard received the call at 2042 stating that Neptune had a one-foot gash in its side.

The incident involved no mechanical steering failure and Neptune was operating in an area sailed in by other vessels.

“This is a case of a vessel simply getting too close to Little Alcatraz on a routine tour,” said Chief Petty Officer Mike Lutz of Coast Guard Sector San Francisco.

“When we struck an object, I knew exactly where we were,” said Melissa McDowell, manager of San Francisco Bay Boat Cruises LLC, Neptune‘s operator. “The captain was experienced and knew the area well. My feeling is that we experienced a flood tide stronger than any in recent memory and that this drew the boat closer to the north side of Alcatraz than the captain anticipated.”

The 22 passengers and crew were rescued by Coast Guard boats reporting from Station Golden Gate and the Coast Guard Cutter Tern. Rescue boats arrived within 15 minutes after the call and brought the passengers to Pier 39, where Neptune had departed hours before. The damaged vessel was then towed to Sausalito Boat Works for repair. There were no reports of injuries or pollution.

Neptune was undergoing repairs and was expected to be back on the water by early January. Official cause is under investigation.

By Professional Mariner Staff