Quick response saves sinking yacht

Becky Vargo • Jul 5, 2018 at 2:30 PM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — A Good Samaritan evacuated five children from a large yacht that had caught fire and started to sink Wednesday afternoon on the Grand River near 152nd Avenue in Grand Haven Township.

The boat’s owner, whose name was not available, stayed with the 35-foot vessel, Tom-Colin’s III, until the U.S. Coast Guard and Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office Marine Patrol arrived shortly after the 12:45 p.m. call for help on the Fourth of July.

When the Coast Guard fast-response boat arrived, water had filled the yacht’s engine room and the staterooms were about three-quarters flooded, according to Coast Guard Station Grand Haven Chief Kirk McKay.

“It had a starboard (right) list, so the port (left) side was out of the water,” McKay said. “The swim platform was about 3 feet under water when they arrived. The bow was up a little.”

McKay said that, according to the boat’s owner, this was the first time it had been on the water in a couple of years. He said they believe a critter had built a nest inside the engine compartment and it caught on fire. There was a flash fire that melted the Fiberglas near the exhaust, and water flooding in through the resulting hole put out the fire.

The Coast Guard crew hooked up a 250-gallon/minute pump and ran it “full blast” for at least 30 minutes, McKay said. Once they got the water level down enough, they plugged the hole with towels.

They then towed the boat to Grand Isle Marina — the nearest marina with a hoist big enough to get it out of the water. A Sheriff’s Office boat escorted the vessels and worked to slow people down “so they wouldn’t wake us,” McKay said.

An official from Grand Isle Marina declined to comment on what was happening to the boat, per company policy, he said. 

Recommended for You

    Grand Haven Tribune Videos