Boat loose in Bellingham Bay towed to shore, no fuel leaks

A boat that broke loose in Bellingham Bay Monday, Dec. 29, was towed into Squalicum Harbor by a private contrac-tor Monday evening.

The boat’s fuel tanks were empty, and no fuel leaked into the bay during the incident, said state Department of Ecology spokeswoman Katie Skipper.

The 50-foot boat had been anchored in the bay but high winds caused it to drag its anchor across the bottom, Bellingham Coast Guard Station Chief Jamie Desanno said.The owner was out getting a larger anchor at the time, Skipper said.

Strong winds are forecast through Friday, raising the possibility that other boats not secured could break loose.The boat’s hull was damaged as it smashed into rocks along the bay's edge near the Horizon ship. It also smashed a small pleasure craft that was between it and the rocks, before being towed to Seaview Boatyard by local contractor Top To Bottom, Skipper said.

The smaller boat had blown from the pier it was tied to earlier in the day and drifted over to the rocks along with the 50-foot boat. Ecology officials were able to remove the smaller vessel’s fuel tank, but the boat was heavily damaged, Skipper said.

The owner of the 50-foot-boat, when finally tracked down by Ecology late Monday afternoon, said that the vessel’s fuel tanks were empty but that they hold up to 1,400 gallons of diesel. The engine also had about 11 gallons of oil inside that did not spill.

The owner will foot the $5,000 to $10,000 towing bill, Skipper said.

The cost to salvage the boat if it had broken apart in the turbulent water probably would have been between $70,000 and $100,000 Skipper said.