Whale watching boat stranded at sea all night with Falls Church family aboard
BOSTON, Mass. (AP) — They weren't castaways, but like the tourists on Gilligan's Island, a group of whale watchers expecting only a three-hour tour got much more after their boat was snagged by a mooring cable off Massachusetts and they were forced to spend a long night at sea.
The Boston Harbor Cruises whale watch vessel was freed Tuesday and docked at Boston's Long Wharf shortly after 8 a.m., some 17 hours after the voyage began. No injuries were reported for any of the 157 passengers or six crew members, but a number of people suffered seasickness during the long wait, according to passengers.
The whale watch, one of the most popular summer tourist attractions in the Boston area, came to an abrupt stop Monday afternoon after one of the propellers one the 83-foot passenger boat Cetacea apparently became entangled with a cable that moors large vessels, such as liquefied natural gas tankers, Coast Guard Petty Officer Robert Simpson said. Earlier reports said the boat got hung up on a lobster trap rope.
Ken Maguire, who was with his wife and daughters ages 6 and 9, spent a sleepless night on the vessel in choppy seas.
"It was kind of like being on the tarmac on a plane, and it's not taking off and you are waiting and waiting, except the plane is rocking back and forth," said Maguire, who lives in Falls Church, Virginia.
He estimated about 20 passengers got seasick. At one point, the Coast Guard brought two paramedics aboard the vessel but there was little they could do to aid people who felt sick.
Divers were brought to the scene about 13 miles offshore Monday night but were unable to detach the cable, and an attempt to transfer the passengers to another vessel was aborted because of the rough seas, he said.
Another team of divers arrived with stronger equipment to detach the cable early Tuesday. The Coast Guard was investigating, Simpson said.
The ordeal was an exciting adventure for Colter Bawden, 8, of Newmarket, Ontario, who was on the whale watch with his parents and sister.
"Well, I really liked it," he said, "but everybody else got sick because it was too rocky by the waves."
His favorite part was getting to sleep on the boat at sea, something he had never experienced before.
He also got to see two humpback whales come up and "use their blowholes to shoot out some water."
Passengers will receive a refund on their $50 ticket, a $100 gift card for a future Boston Harbor Cruise and $500 cash for their troubles, said Sheila Green, a spokeswoman for Boston Harbor Cruises.
Maguire said while he appreciated the gesture from the company, the former Boston resident said it was likely his family's "first and last whale watch."