Wooden landing craft floods, sinks by its bow in British Columbia

Seventeen people safely evacuated a wooden landing barge as it partially sank in British Columbia’s Strait of Georgia. 
The 76-foot Lasqueti Daughters foundered near the south end of Cortes Island on March 14 after it took on water and down-flooded in choppy seas.

The self-propelled landing craft, owned by Impact Reforestation, had departed Campbell River. After successfully passing Cape Mudge at the south end of Quadra Island, the crew traversed Sutil Channel and encountered wind and waves.

The area is notorious for difficult navigation due to conflicting tide and wind, said Glenn Budden, regional senior investigator at the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB).

“They had waited in Campbell River for weather. It was blowing southeast and with an ebb tide there,” Budden said. “There was a residual swell and it was forecast to switch to northeast. It can switch around sometimes and it can blow hard in the opposite direction. They took on a fair bit of water from the sides of the bow ramp and water came aboard.”

The voyage was initially due to begin March 13, but because it was a Friday the 13th they decided to leave on the next day, Budden said. By then the weather had worsened.

“They were OK going out to Cape Mudge on Quadra Island and turned to port to go into Baker Pass,” Budden said. “The wind was blowing out of Sutil Channel and it had picked up and they ended up taking on more water.”

Budden said that the crew did not notice initially that water was coming aboard and flooding into a compartment below deck. As they sat lower and lower in the water, they noticed it. 

Built in 2001, Lasqueti Daughters is a twin-screw barge propelled by two diesel engines producing about 275 hp. The vessel is designed with a flat deck and a hull divided into four compartments — the stern, the engine room and two holds, which are compartments with bulkheads in between.

“They went and opened the hatch cover to that tank and it was full,” Budden said. “They made several attempts to pump out the water but had to evacuate everybody.”

The vessel started sinking and the crew abandoned ship without making a mayday call about a mile off Sutil Point on Cortes Island. A member of the public from the shore called the Coast Guard, which responded from Powell River with the lifeboat Cape Caution.

Lasqueti Daughters went down by the bow, pointing straight down but did not totally sink, with the rear of the cabin remaining afloat. A salvage company towed it to Hernandez Island, where it was beached and pumped out. It refloated on the next tide and was towed to Campbell River.

Lasqueti Daughters had been towing a crew boat, onto which the majority of people evacuated, Budden said. The owner and master stayed in a last-minute attempt to save the boat and ultimately abandoned into a skiff.

Budden said the TSB will publish a full report on the sinking. “It will take us some time to look at it, identify the safety deficiencies and start writing,” he said. 

Greg Kingston, president of Impact Reforestation, declined to be interviewed, stating that he preferred to “put the incident behind us and move on.”

Kingston indicated that the vessel was a total loss and would not be repaired.

By Professional Mariner Staff