Tracy Arm tour boat engine fails

39 passengers put aboard another vessel bound for Petersburg

Posted: Thursday, June 07, 2001

The Sheltered Seas day cruiser returned to Juneau today after engine problems forced the captain to anchor in Tracy Arm on Wednesday and transfer 39 passengers to another charter vessel.

The passengers were transported to Petersburg, arriving around 3 a.m., said Floyd Sickle of the Seattle office of Alaska Sightseeing/ Cruise West, owners of the vessel.

The 90-foot Sheltered Seas made it back to Juneau under its own power on one engine, and is tied up at the Seadrome Dock.

"It needs minor repairs. We hope to get her up and running today," Sickle said.

Capt. Rod Van Emelen anchored the Sheltered Seas in a cove by the side of Tracy Arm Fjord, 40 miles southeast of Juneau, Wednesday evening and radioed its sister vessel, Spirit of '98, and the Coast Guard.

"The captain did not feel comfortable with crossing the bar - going from calm water into rougher water - with one shaft," said Petty Officer Roger Wetherell. "He wanted to put his passengers on the Spirit of '98, a larger vessel, but we said no because that would exceed the maximum passengers for the Spirit of '98 by 26 people and create stability problems in terms of weight," he said.

Cruise West then chartered the Keet, a 78-footer owned by Allen Marine Tours, to sail to Tracy Arm and retrieve the passengers. The transfer was completed shortly after midnight, Sickle said, and the Keet then went on to Petersburg.

The Sheltered Seas has a passenger capacity of 75, plus eight crew. It is scheduled to dock in Juneau 21 times during this cruise season. The passengers who boarded Wednesday were scheduled to stay two nights in Petersburg and then continue on to Ketchikan, said Larry Johansen, Southeast regional manager for Cruise West.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at

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