Five boaters rescued near Amalga Harbor

Passengers hauling in crab pot shortly before boat capsized

Posted: Monday, July 23, 2001

Five people who abandoned a swamped 20-foot Bayliner just before it capsized near Gull and Bird islands on Sunday afternoon were rescued by a good Samaritan, the Coast Guard said today.

"We got a mayday at 3:53 p.m. saying, 'Going into the water. Bird Island,'" said Petty Officer Roger Wetherell. "We issued an urgent marine broadcast for any boaters in the area to assist, and we launched a Coast Guard boat from Auke Bay. Before we could get there, a good Samaritan had rescued everyone. There were no reports of any injuries."

Gull and Bird islands are in Favorite Channel, about 2 1/2 miles west of Amalga Harbor.

Two of the five people aboard the Southern Belle were hauling up a crab pot at the stern. The extra weight caused the stern to drop, and waves washed over the transom, Wetherell said.

The five people were Travis Mead, 26; Jason Tarver, 26; Karen Brewer, 29; Tyler Womack, 29; and Tarver's mother, Barbara Haase, 66, visiting from Arizona.

"We went from being a floating boat to going down in three seconds," said Mead. "We were able to get the raft off the roof and get everybody into it and get a call out just in time, but we weren't sure if anybody heard us....

"One wave hit us, and then another one. I ran to start the motor, and all the electrical was dead. I got the kicker (motor) started. Then a third wave slammed into the kicker and it died."

Mead, a carpenter, and Tarver, a raft guide, co-own the Southern Belle. The Silver Bullet was the good Samaritan at the scene. Mead did not know the name of the owner, and the vessel is not registered with the harbormaster.

The Coast Guard towed the capsized Southern Belle to Eagle Beach and righted it. Mead and friends drove out in the evening, bailed out the boat, and direct-wired the bilge pump to the batteries. Another craft then towed it to Amalga Harbor for them, reaching there about midnight.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at achandonnet@juneauempire.com



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