The sinking of the 49-foot fishing boat, Aleutian Island, occurred at approximated 10 a.m. Saturday morning, August 13 off of Sunset Point on San Juan Island. No action to contain the spill was apparent for the first 24 hours after the sinking.
David Blackshaw, a 45-year resident of San Juan Island, is a commercial fisherman, an enthusiastic diver and has a great deal of experience setting booms to sequester spilled diesel and oil. "It was sad no one was there," he said. "No booms had been set."
Sunday evening, approximately 30 hours after the sinking of the fishing boat, a boom was set to keep the oil/diesel out of the bay at San Juan County Park. An offer by an experienced private citizen to set a boom during low tide had been rebuffed 14 hours earlier. Photo by David Blackshaw
Realizing that low tide would occur in the early hours of Sunday morning, he gathered his equipment and headed toward San Juan County Park. "The tides were coming in and the winds were blowing south," he said. "It was the perfect setup (to contain the spillage)." He knew he couldn't save the whole west side but at least he could prevent oil and diesel from damaging the park's waterfront.
He arrived at the park around 3:30 a.m. and was wading in the water with a spotlight preparing to get to work. The park managers saw him and asked what he was doing.
Blackshaw said they were excited and thought it was awesome that he was taking action. They did have some hesitation about whether they had authority to approve his action. So in an abundance of caution, he called the Coast Guard. To his dismay, he was told he would have to fill out forms and fax them to the Coast Guard in order to get permission. He explained he had only 90 minutes to set his equipment in order to take advantage of the low tide.
Further conversation did not improve the situation and he wasn't authorized to proceed.
"Why wouldn't they say 'Go for it'" he said. "It's heartbreaking. I tried my best."
- Sept 22: Aleutian Isle no longer significant threat to environment in the San Juan Islands
- Sept. 21 Update: Aleutian Isle on barge, 40 days after sinking to 200-foot depth
- Sept. 20 Aleutian Isle Update: Vessel moved to shallower Mitchell Bay, dewatering and rerigging underway
- Update 10: Further Aleutian Isle lifting operations postponed due to weight
- Aleutian Isle successfully raised to surface; no whales in area
- Lifting of the Aleutian Isle underway
- UPDATE 9: Final preparations underway for lifting fishing vessel Aleutian Isle
- Sept. 12 Update: Aleutian Isle recovery efforts
- Sept 9 Update: Rigging Aleutian Isle for lift will take a few more days
- Sept. 4 Update Aleutian Isle: Wreck cleared of entanglements; rigging begun
- Sept. 2 Aleutian Isle Update: All valves and vents closed off by divers
- Sept. 1: Divers removing netting from wreck of Aleutian Isle
- Aleutian Isle lying on starboard side 200 ft down; TFR extended to Oct. 15
- Boaters asked to abide by safety zone restrictions near wreck site
- Aleutian Isle incident: Equipment on site, recovery will take 10 days once started
- U.S. and Canadian crews conduct transboundary whale deterrents drill
- August 25 Update: No sheen observed
- UPDATE #7: Efforts to bring sunken fishing boat up expected to begin Friday
- IOSA survey to gauge potential IOSA responder availability
- County Council met with response team last week; recording available
- Update 6: Specialized diving equipment will take a few days to arrive
- Coast Guard plans to remove entire FV Aleutian Isle from ocean floor
- 10 years ago, SeaDoc Society created a plan used today to keep orcas out of an oil spill
- Coast Guard Update 4: No marine, terrestrial, or airborne wildlife appear to have been affected
- Coast Guard Update 3: Depth of sunken boat increases difficulty for divers, ROV brought in, nets recovered
- Coast Guard Monday evening Update: Boat now in 200 ft of water
- Coast Guard, partner agencies respond to pollution incident after fishing vessel sinks off San Juan Island
- August 13: An "epic" encounter with J, K, and L pods
- Coast Guard Update: Divers on scene assessing possible defueling of sunken fishing boat
- Sunday evening update from Coast Guard about sunken fishing boat
- San Juan County's view of diesel/oil spill situation
- Hotline to report sighting of oiled wildlife - 1-800-22-BIRDS.
- Coast Guard update on diesel/oil spill off of San Juan Island
- Diesel/oil spill off Sunset Point west side of San Juan Island