June 9, 2023

Shipwreck spillage leaves little trace

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“Flight” gets into difficulties (photo by Mark Button, Moby Dick Tours)

Environmental officials said yesterday they were waiting for the weather to clear before examining possible reef damage caused by a Thursday night boat wreck and fuel spill in the North Sound.

However, 2,000 gallons of diesel fuel loosed into the water had evaporated by Sunday afternoon, leaving little trace, while marine police remained at the scene on Monday, clearing debris from the wreck and the reef.

Department of Environmental Health Chief Marine Enforcement Officer Mark Orr said he was waiting for a break in the weather to examine the site, just north of the Sand Bar, for possible damage.

“The spill didn’t spread very wide,” he said yesterday. “The outflow was about 150 yards and was sucked out to sea. It was a very thin sheet and evaporated very quickly. There was a bit of a diesel smell, and that was a little uncomfortable at first.”

What’s left of the wreckage of “Flight“ (photo by Mark Button, Moby Dick Tours)

Salvage boats from nearby Harbour House Marina were unable to vacuum up the fuel that had “slowly spilled from Friday into Saturday,” Mr Orr said, “but by Sunday it was all gone.”

Marine police were standing by to investigate, “and as soon as the weather breaks, we’ll assess any damage,” he said.

Meanwhile, Marine Police Sergeant Dewey Ebanks, among the first to arrive at the scene following the initial “NivenD” Marine Unit response late Thursday night, said he was unsure how the accident had happened, but no contraband had been found aboard the 72-foot fiberglass-hulled Pacemaker motor cruiser, dubbed “Flight”.

“It still remains a mystery what happened,” Sergeant Ebanks said. “I don’t have the full story.” The two crew, Australian males, 35 years old and 38 years old, were unhurt. “They came into North Sound because of bad weather and I don’t know how they missed the head of the main channel.

Mark Orr of the Department of Environment

‘There is nothing left of the boat here on the reef, except the stern and another piece. The engine is sitting right on top of the reef. Harbour House Marina is doing most of the salvage. Anything we determine as a navigational hazard we’ll take into storage,” he said.

He declined to discuss the cargo on “Flight”, acknowledging something was being transported, but it was “not illegal. You’ll have to wait for the official police statement.”

The boat, he said, had been en route from Cuba, stopping in Cayman because of bad weather. An earlier police statement said the boat had originated in Miami, planning to navigate the Panama Canal en route to Australia.

Police investigations would resume when the weather broke, Sergeant Ebanks said, “but we hope to finish operations today, possibly tomorrow.”

Mr Orr said, inclement weather meant “no one has been able to assess what was on [the boat] or the condition of the reef,” but crewmen were helping investigators.

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