It really was a three-hour tour, but nobody had to make radio sets out of coconuts

UPDATED with new information from the Coast Guard.

Passengers who left Boston on a three-hour whale watch yesterday afternoon spent the night at sea after an underwater cable got tangled up in their boat's propeller and the ship stopped dead in the water.

The Coast Guard reports Boston Harbor Cruises' Cetacea became stuck about 13 miles east of Nahant. The 83-foot boat had 163 people aboard.

Initial attempts by the divers to clear the line from the propeller were unsuccessful. Original reports indicated a lobster pot line was caught in the propeller, but further analysis revealed it was a cable from Northeast Gateway's offshore facility which required additional dive resources and heavy duty equipment for removal.

Considering the dangers of an at-sea night operation, a passenger transfer was deemed unsafe until morning. Meanwhile, Boston Harbor Cruises provided additional water, food and blankets to the passengers.

The Tybee and Escanaba remained on scene with the Cetacea through the night and Coast Guard medical personnel remained aboard to monitor for possible medical concerns.

The Globe reports the cable was for an LNG offloading area in what is supposed to be off limits to regular boats.

First thing this morning, divers from the cruise company untangled the propeller and the boat made it back to Boston Harbor. The Herald reports passengers will get refunds, plus cash.



      Free tagging: 


      A few weeks back , the MBTA

      By on

      A few weeks back , the MBTA commuter boat out of Hingham had a ferry crash drill at the dock. This situation is a different scenario with a different carrier, but how do they strand people that long a time so close to shore ? Was the night time a factor in not towing, or the screwy weather ? Or is it a curse of the three hour tour ? Ginger or Mary Ann , another dilemma .


      Trickster ,

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      Trickster ,
      Upon investigation, they have both services. You would think they have a better plan then leaving people stranded so close for so long. Maybe an official techno explanation from a big kahuna will be released. Its a pox on the heritage of the Boston waterfront.

      The propeller was caught.

      The boat couldn't be moved, without divers to untangle the longline (and WTF are longlines doing in Massachusetts Bay?). By the time that the crew and Coast Guard determined what had happened, night fell. Moving people to another boat (the optimal solution) would have been fairly difficult in the dark, and it was likely adjudged safer and cheaper to keep them on the original vessel until daybreak, when the line was quickly untangled and they came back to shore, for a passenger refund with cash on top.

      That propeller will likely have to be replaced or at least pull the boat into drydock and x-ray the blades.


      This reminds me that a whale

      This reminds me that a whale watching trip was how I discovered that I get seasick. Ugh.

      As much as I would not have wanted to be on that boat overnight (seasick or not,) it sounded as if there were Coast Guard boats standing by next to the stranded boat, passengers in distress could have been evacuated, and that the crew and passengers were provided with food and water.



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      I'm pretty sure that whale watch leaves at 1:30, if this happened on the way back in, it was probably around or a little before 4. They had plenty of time to bring one of BHC's 30 or so boats (totally estimating) over to transport the passengers.
      You would think an 83 ft boat would have been able to shake a lobster trap line. I would have been a very angry passenger!

      As has been noted above,

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      As has been noted above, making a transfer of passengers 13 miles out to sea is really tricky - even walking onto a boat from the dock can be a little difficult, especially for small children or people with impaired mobility, let alone between two boats in even moderately rough waters. The official report also notes that the boat got tangled in a mooring cable which was unable to be cut by the initial divers - so it wasn't just a braided line, but probably a braided metal cable which can easily get wrapped around a propeller such that it can't be easily freed, even by an 83-foot boat. The situation stunk to be sure, but I kind of doubt the captain saw the cable in the water and thought - "Gee I can probably just plow straight through this thing." Sounds like everyone did the best they could, including BHC who shelled out some serious cash (look at the AP story - ticket refund ($50), $100 gift card, and $500 cash) to say sorry. That's like getting paid 43 bucks an hour for your 15 hours at sea, probably better than a lot of fishermen do.



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      I fully understand the risks that go along with at sea passenger transfers. I just read that BHC and Coast Guard attempted, unsuccessfully. The initial report was "a lobster trap line", I have now learned that the boat was in a restricted area, which may have contributed to the incident. I could not imagine a captain aiming straight for a cable purposely, there are tons of old mooring blocks and old traps hanging around. Not to mention the traps set without enough line to keep the markers afloat at high tide. It is dangerous out there. Glad the passengers were compensated. $43/hour, that's a good day of fishing.

      only $500

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      So I've yet to see an explanation of this. Why were they unable to transfer any of the people on board? Is it all that hard? There must be a way to do it. Don't they drill for emergencies? What if the weather worsened? What if it were colder? You'd think they might have come up with a plan B. That must have been one awful night. Those boats are not exactly comfortable and that's a lot of people.

      Also, if I were on vacation, and at a nice hotel, the $500 wouldn't seem like a lot of money.

      Just sayin...

      Transfers at sea are risky

      Transferring 163 people from one boat to another with any kind of sea running, there's a reasonable chance that one or two or more would be drowned or crushed between the boats.

      That's a risk you'd certainly take if a boat were on fire or sinking; saving 160 out of 163 who would otherwise surely drown; that's not a bad batting average. But it's not a risk you'd take if the people on the disabled vessel were not at risk.


      Oh, look, a horse dentist.

      By on

      Oh, look, a horse dentist.

      Receiving $600 (each) for spending an unexpected night out on a boat which was in no danger ain't so bad.

      Now here comes the part where you concoct fanciful hypothetical situations wherein someone has a medical emergency or has to give birth or has a really important business meeting the next day, because nothing refutes a statement like imaginary what-ifs without the desire to find what-if solutions.