May 27, 2009
Cause of spill:
Vessel owner was moving sailboat from Westport on the evening of May 25 to a moorage location on the Wishkah River in Aberdeen. Because of the height of the sailboat's masts, the railroad bridge over the Wishkah River needed to be opened to allow passage. Vessel owner did not have contact information to get the bridge opened and decided to leave the sailboat tied up at the Port’s 28th Street Boat Launch for the night.
Due to the size of the sailboat and the shallow condition at the boat launch during low tide, the vessel came to rest on the starboard side during the low tide on the morning of May 26. Diesel fuel spilled out of the fuel tanks and into the vessel and then into the Chehalis River/Grays Harbor through cracks in the portion of the hull that are normally above the waterline.
Citizens observed the vessel on its side and called the Hoquiam Fire Department. In addition, the Port of Grays Harbor Westport Harbormaster, Ken Rausch, who is familiar with this vessel, was contacted by local officials and responded to the scene with some response equipment. Ecology was contacted by the fire department and responded from Olympia.
Ecology contacted the vessel owner and instructed him to hire an environmental contractor. Cowlitz Clean Sweep was hired by the vessel owner and responded with equipment including a vacuum truck. Sorbent materials were used to collect floating fuel around the boat launch on the rising tide. Diesel floating inside the partially sunk sailboat was removed by the vac truck and then the vessel was refloated by pumping water out and using lines tied to the dock connected to several hand winches.
Due to the successful effort to refloat the vessel on the first incoming tide, the engine did not get submerged and was able to be restarted. The vessel owner was able to move the sailboat to the moorage location on the Wishkah River in Aberdeen without further incident.