This is a developing story. KCAW will report further details as they emerge.
A yacht ran aground in Sitka on Saturday (10-07-17) during the highest tide of the month, spilling an estimated 5 to 15 gallons of diesel near Middle Island.
The Alaskan Dream is a 74-foot pleasure craft with a hull made out of fiberglass-over-wood. The vessel is homeported in Sitka and owned by Gregory Stevenson.
Around 1:40 p.m. on Saturday, the Alaskan Dream struck a rock between Middle and Little Gavanski Islands. The rock was completely submerged in the 11.3-foot high tide.
KCAW was traversing the same stretch of water shortly after the accident took place and observed the Alaskan Dream near Border Rocks listing on its port side. Half a dozen good samaritan vessels were on standby.
As of Monday afternoon (10-09-17), the Alaskan Dream remained perched on the rock and stable.
According to an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation report issued today, the U.S. Coast Guard estimates 5 to 15 gallons of diesel were discharged through the tank vent during or immediately after the grounding.
Stevenson hired Hanson Maritime Company to perform a salvage of the vessel. Their Tug Salvation arrived on scene at 5:30 p.m on Saturday. Captain Lee Hanson says his focus over the next several hours is to remove all environmental pollutants from the Alaskan Dream. So far, they’ve lightered 1700 of an estimated 3000 gallons of No. 2 diesel fuel onboard. Boom has been deployed around the vessel.
Once the tide fell, the crew was able to inspect the hull. They found a significant hole with a stabilizer fin pushed through. Hanson estimates the hole is 18 inches by four feet in size and added, “No amount of pumps could have kept it afloat.” He allowed some water to flood Alaskan Dream so it can’t achieve buoyancy and shift position. During high tide, Hanson estimates roughly ⅓ of the boat is underwater with the engine room flooded.
Stevenson and members of his immediate family were on board when the vessel ran aground. No injuries were reported.
Due to discrepancies with the owner’s insurance provider, the U.S. Coast Guard is overseeing the defueling of the Alaskan Dream and any environmental clean-up. Federal On-Scene Coordinator Representative Ken Farah said they expect to finish defueling today and will then do a full sweep for miscellaneous polluants (batteries, hydraulic fuel, etc.)
Once the vessel is clean enough to no longer be a threat to the environment, the owner will determine what to do next. The weather forecast this evening predicts a lessening chance of rain showers, with waves at 2 feet.