Still no reason for yesterday’s capsizing of a whale watching boat off the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
Jamie Bray, owner of “Jamie’s Whaling Station” in Tofino, which owns the boat that went down, says the vessel was in good repair and the crew was well-trained.
“We just don’t understand, and we won’t know the answers until the Transportation Safety Board finishes their investigations.”
“Lifejackets aren’t worn”
He was asked in an afternoon news conference if the passengers and crew were wearing lifejackets.
“Jackets aren’t worn, Transport Canada advises not to wear a lifejacket on a vessel with enclosed compartments.”
Bray says the reasoning is, in the event of a sinking it would difficult to exit a vessel when wearing a lifejacket.
“So on larger vessels we’re not required to have the passengers wear the lifejackets, and small open boat, they are required to wear lifejackets.”
Leviathon II conducted same tour thousands of times without incident
Regarding if the hazards of the location possibly contributed to the accident, Bray said the Leviathon II has done the exact same trip for twenty years, twice a day, and there was no indications that it was any different than any other spring of fall tour day.
“This is an area that the boat goes to everyday. Yesterday was no different than any other day, as I said it does have its own sea conditions in there – the vessel is operated by professionals, we operate under guidelines for safety as far as what happens with the vessels itslef in close encounters with rocks, and also with the wildlife.”
He says wildlife viewing guides mandate a distance of 100 metres distance.
When asked about the 1998 incident in which a crew member and passenger died after a Jamie’s Whaling Station boat capsized in the same area, Bray insisted it was a totally different scenario as far as the vessels are concerned.
“The 1998 incident happened in a zodiac, a totally different type of vessel. It was struck by a rogue wave, and the passengers were thrown out.”
Bray says the boat was in good repair and the crew took part in bi-weekly training.
No time to send mayday call
The company’s director of operations, Corene Inouye, says the crew didn’t have time to send out a mayday call.
“We have learnt that the crew was able to access emergency flares that are part of the safety equipment on board the boat, and deployed them from the water. Local First Nations fishermen were the first to see this and rushed to the scene to come to the assistance of our passengers and crew.”
Transportation Safety Board has arrived and will conduct investigation
Although they offered few details, the Transportation Safety Board has confirmed they will be starting their investigation into the tragic sinking of the Leviathan II immediately.
Capt. Marc Andre Poisson says they have yet to talk to crew members and people who were on board the vessel.
“I am here with a team of four investigators on site to determine what happened and why.”
“We’re going to conduct interviews with crew members and passengers, we are going to be examining meteorological conditions, we are going to examine and photograph the wreckage, we are going to examine the maintenance history of the vessel.”
As for why the boat capsized:
“It’s really too early in the investigation, we are going to try to confirm information we have, and provide any information as soon as we have confirmation.”
Poisson says the investigation may take months to complete.