March 1, 2012 | Vol. 42 No. 8

Boat beached by tide

A crab boat was left high and dry early Friday morning after low tide left the boat beached and stuck on the rocks and sand.

Doug Olerud
The Traci-C from Sitka sits grounded on sand and rocks at the Haines harbor during low tide on Feb. 24.

The 68-foot Traci-C of Sitka came to the harbor about 3:30 a.m. Friday morning with its catch of crab. Skipper and boat owner Bryan Howey said he tied up to the end of the fuel float, as it was the only place in the harbor available at the time. He was waiting to offload to a tender, which was then receiving crabs from another vessel. But the receding tide grounded the boat in the meantime.

Howey said he’d been to Haines before and was aware of shallow depths in that part of the harbor, but didn’t realize that a sloping sea floor there would cause his equipment to provide him an incomplete picture.

“I knew the fuel dock was an impossibility, but I didn’t know the end of the float was also a problem,” he said.

Howey said he checked his depth-finder and tide computer before tying up there.

“I left my bow hanging over the end and my computer said it was only going to drop another 8.7 more feet, which would leave me 1.4 fathoms under the boat. At the end of it, I still had 1.6 fathoms under the bow but nothing under the stern.”

He said the borough should consider posting a sign about the sloped bottom that would tip off visiting boats. “A sign would be extremely helpful.”

Haines harbormaster Ed Barrett said had Howey notified him he was coming in, he would have found another place for Traci-C to dock. Barrett said ultimately, it’s up to the skipper to make sure the water depth at the float is deep enough for his vessel.

“It’s his responsibility to be aware of what the charts say,” Barrett said.

Howey said he did not lose any of his catch and was able to pitch to the tender at about 10 a.m. after the tide rose.

The Traci-C was not damaged because the steel hull rested on a sandy spot between large rocks. The dock was also not damaged.

Barrett said he did not cite Howey for any violations. “I think they’ve had trouble enough,” he said.