Friday, January 26, 2007

F/V Starrigavan Wrecked on Tillamook Jetty

Sad news today Fishies.

From various news accounts:

50-year-old fisherman, Kenneth Venard of Newport, died after the F/V Starrigavan wrecked on the south jetty of Tillamook Bay near Garibaldi on the Oregon Coast. The three other crew members had hypothermia but were in good condition early today. The survivors are the skipper, Kirk Opheim, 23, of Burlington, Wash., and crew members Gregory Phillips, 23, of Siletz, and Sam Johnson, 39, of Seattle.

The boat was trying to cross the Tillamook bar about 9:30 p.m. Thursday. A witness saw it list heavily and its lights go out. A survivor reported the vessel was hit by three 20-foot waves and rolled three times, said Petty Officer Shawn Eggert.

The witness called 911, and at about the same time an emergency signal was transmitted from the EPIRB aboard the Starrigavan to the Coast Guard. “All of a sudden a big wave hit his boat and the lights went out and that’s when we called 911. And didn’t hear anything else until the chopper got here and found them,” said Josh Cravenho, a witness.

A helicopter lifted the injured Venard from the boat. He was taken to the hospital, where he went into cardiac arrest and died. Early reports stated that Venard was in his 70’s and had suffered severe head and chest injuries.

According to Coast Guard records, the steel-hulled vessel is homeported in Garibaldi. It's owned by Fire Island Fisheries Corp. out of Kirkland, Wash. You may also remember this boat and its skipper from an earlier blog. The 23 year old skipper was arrested for operating the vessel under the influence of intoxicants last month.

A survivor reported the vessel was hit by three 20-foot waves and rolled three times, said Petty Officer Shawn Eggert of the Coast Guard. Eggert said the winds at the time were reported at about 17 miles an hour, waves at 11 feet. "It's possible they were hit by rogue waves," he said. Eggert said that at the time of the wreck, the bar was closed to recreational boaters and uninspected passenger vessels, but open to commercial fishing vessels such as the Starrigavan.

Bars are buildups of sediment where a river slows as it meets the ocean, often creating treacherous conditions for skippers.

Deputies and investigators from the Coast Guard were interviewing the survivors, said Lt. Adam Birst, the senior investigative officer in

A Coast Guard environmental team that planned to inspect the vessel found Friday that it had apparently broken loose from the jetty and sunk, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Chris Buehl of Astoria. "They did locate some debris," he said, and a helicopter was to be dispatched to investigate.

When it was hit Thursday night, the boat was returning to port at about low tide. When the water rose toward high tide on Friday morning, it might have gotten high enough to free the boat from the jetty. It isn't surprising that a steel-hulled vessel the size of the Starrigavan could be tossed about. "You get sideways and get hit by a couple of waves, and that's all it takes,” said Tillamook Co. Sheriff Anderson.

From the US Coast Guard Press Release:

Coast Guard Station Tillamook Bay has dispatched a 47-foot motor lifeboat crew and Air Station Astoria has launched an HH-60 helicopter crew to respond to the emergency. Station Tillamook Bay is located on the north side of Tillamook Bay in the town of Garibaldi, Ore. Tillamook Bay is home to a moderate size fishing fleet and has a tricky entrance bar that breaks frequently.

The station has five search and rescue boats, including: two 47-foot motor lifeboats , a 25-foot response boat, a 23-foot utility boat and an 18-foot flood response skiff. The 47-foot motor lifeboats have been designed for operations in heavy surf conditions and are capable of being rolled over by breaking swells and re-right themselves with minimal damage.

Air Station Astoria is co-located at the Astoria Regional Airport in Warrenton, Ore. The missions of the Air Station include Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement, Aids to Navigation Support, and Environmental Protection.

The HH-60 "Jayhawk" is a twin-engine, medium-range recovery helicopter capable of reaching a top speed of 180 knots. In addition to its use in search and rescue operations, this highly versatile aircraft is used to perform law enforcement, military readiness, and marine environmental protection missions.


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