British Columbia

Whale-watchers survive boat sinking

A whale-watching vessel with 34 people on board sank Thursday in the Gulf Islands, off the southwest coast of B.C., but rescue officials say everyone is safe.

All 34 people on board survive after vessel sinks off southwest coast of B.C.

The whale-watching vessel went down off the coast of Mayne Island, B.C. ((CBC))
A whale-watching vessel with 34 people on board sank Thursday in the Gulf Islands, off the southwest coast of B.C., but rescue officials say everyone is safe.

The 45-foot aluminum hull vessel, owned by the Richmond-based company Vancouver Whale Watch, ran into trouble at about 1 p.m. near Campbell Bay off Mayne Island.

Owner Cedric Towers said the ship, carrying 32 passengers and two crew members, started taking on water on its way back from the whale-watching tour.

Crew members tried to pump out the water, he said, but they were unable to keep up.

The boat sank Thursday afternoon after it started taking on water. ((Rene Frick))
He said the ship's passengers were picked up by another whale-watching ship, owned by the same company, that was travelling alongside.

Witnesses said just 10 minutes after the passengers got off the boat, it was completely submerged.

Most of the passengers were tourists, Towers said, and he's grateful no one was injured.

The company is in the process of determining what caused the ship to sink, but Towers said he believes it might have been struck by something.

He said the boat is one of two the company owns and will need to be replaced, at a cost of $750,000.

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