Six people escaped serious injury Sunday evening when a new 85-foot yacht built by Northern Marine Industries capsized immediately after it was launched in Anacortes, Wash.
The people aboard worked for the boatbuilder and had to be rescued, according to a report by the Skagit Valley Herald.
Police Capt. Lou D’Amelio told the newspaper that the boat began to roll onto its side in shallow water as it was being launched. As it began to roll, several people went into the engine room to adjust ballast. The yacht continued to roll, and the engine room began to flood. Most of the workers on board were easily rescued, but one man was trapped inside.
Anacortes officer and Navy veteran Scott Ray used an ax to chop out a port hole and rescue the man, D’Amelio said. The man was treated for minor cuts and scrapes from being pulled through the port hole.
No fuel had spilled, but booms were placed at the scene to prevent contamination from potential leaks, D’Amelio said.
Wes Fridell, a representative of New World Yacht Builders, which does business as Northern Marine, was present for the launch and said the yacht had only 120 gallons of diesel in the tank, a small amount for the first launch. It is built to hold about 11,000 gallons, he said.
He described watching the event unfold as “sickening” and something he’d never seen happen before.
“It just at one point lurched at its cradle. We don’t know exactly why at this point because the cradle had been inspected and is sound. And then we reinspected everything before we proceeded. … Once it floated in the water, it went over. So we do not know the cause at this point,” he said Monday.
The multimillion-dollar yacht had been under construction for 2-1/2 years. The fiberglass hull may be only minimally damaged or easily repaired, Fridell said. “But everything inside is toast — everything. Nothing’s made to be submerged in saltwater.”
Marine salvors were planning to attempt to right the boat at high tide late Monday night, Fridell said.