UPDATE | Rainfall, absent owner may be cause of boat sinking in Eagle Harbor

A diver with Global Diving & Salvage, Inc. prepares to enter the waters of Eagle Harbor to examine the
A diver with Global Diving & Salvage, Inc. prepares to enter the waters of Eagle Harbor to examine the 'Chickamauga,' an historic tugboat that sank early Wednesday.
— image credit: Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review

The recent deluge of heavy rainfall and an absentee owner may be to blame for the sinking of the historic tugboat "Chickamauga" at the Eagle Harbor Marina, a marina official said Wednesday.

The "Chickamauga," a 70-foot wooden vessel built in 1915, sank in its mooring slip early Wednesday morning at the marina. Coast Guard officials and a contractor that specializes in containing spills are currently at the marina and working to prevent any pollution from spreading from the sunken vessel.

A team from Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound Incident Management Division is at the scene to facilitate the early clean-up efforts and assist Global Diving & Salvage, Inc., the Seattle-based company contracted to assess the sunken boat.

"We've got it contained," said Coast Guard Petty Officer 3rd Class Scott Wingfield. "The local fire department did a great job."

Harbormaster Doug Crow, who discovered the vessel sinking earlier this morning, said a combination of neglect and weather conditions may have been what caused the boat to sink.

"It could be the storms," Crow said, referring to the high amounts of rain the island has received in the last few days.

Crow said the boat's owner, who has not been identified, did not come to pump out the water that accumulated during the recent rainfall, which may have caused the vessel to become too heavy and sink.

Crow also said that he had not seen the boat's owner for several months, and thought he may currently be out of the state.

According to Crow, the boat's owner filed an application in February for a slip in the marina with photos of the boat which did not accurately reflect its poor condition.

Having paid for only two months, the owner brought the vessel in at night and had not been seen by Crow since, he said.

A Coast Guard representative said that the boat's owner may be financially responsible for the clean-up, pending an investigation.

Divers from Global Diving & Salvage were attempting to assess the boat Wednesday afternoon and determine where exactly the fuel is leaking from and how best to stop it.

The marina itself remains open for normal business but the actual pier at which the "Chickamauga" is moored has been closed by the Coast Guard temporarily to anyone not accessing a specific neighboring boat.



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