How a three-hour whale watching voyage became a overnight ordeal

Some 157 passengers spent the night on a whale-watching ship stranded 15 miles off the Massachusetts coast. The ship was snagged by a lobster trap rope.

By , Associated Press

Passengers on a whale watch boat are back on dry land after spending a long night stuck at sea outside Boston.

The boat got snagged by a rope about 15 miles off Massachusetts on Monday. Divers managed to free it early Tuesday, and the vessel docked shortly before 8 a.m.

There were no injuries to any of the 157 passengers or six crewmembers.

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Sheila Green, a spokeswoman for Boston Harbor Cruisers, says passengers were smiling and waving as the boat approached the dock. Green says passengers will receive a refund on their $50 ticket, a $100 gift card for a future Boston Harbor Cruise and $500 cash for their troubles.She said the passengers were given food and drink and blankets to stay warm.

The whale watch, one of the most popular summer tourist attractions in the Boston area, came to an abrupt stop Monday afternoon after one of the propellers one the 83-foot passenger boat Cetacea apparently became entangled with a cable that moors large vessels, such as liquefied natural gas tankers, Coast Guard Petty Officer Robert Simpson said. Earlier reports said the boat got hung up on a lobster trap rope.

Ken Maguire, one of the passengers on the boat, said they had expected to be back Monday around 4:30 p.m. but about 10 minutes into the return trip, the boat stopped after apparently hitting something.

Maguire, who was with his wife and daughters ages 6 and 9, spent a sleepless night on the vessel in choppy seas.

"It was kind of like being on the tarmac on a plane, and it's not taking off and you are waiting and waiting, except the plane is rocking back and forth," said Maguire, who lives in Falls Church, Virginia.

He estimated about 20 passengers got seasick. At one point, the Coast Guard brought two paramedics aboard the vessel but there was little they could do to aid people who felt sick.

Divers were brought to the scene about 13 miles offshore Monday night but were unable to detach the cable, and an attempt to transfer the passengers to another vessel was aborted because of the rough seas, he said.

Another team of divers arrived with stronger equipment to detach the cable early Tuesday. The Coast Guard was investigating, Simpson said.

The ordeal was an exciting adventure for Colter Bawden, 8, of Newmarket, Ontario, who was on the whale watch with his parents and sister.

"Well, I really liked it," he said, "but everybody else got sick because it was too rocky by the waves."

His favorite part was getting to sleep on the boat at sea, something he had never experienced before.

He also got to see two humpback whales come up and "use their blowholes to shoot out some water."

Maguire said while he appreciated the refunds and free tickets from the company, the former Boston resident said it was likely his family's "first and last whale watch."

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Associated Press writer Rodrique Ngowi contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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