Stranded Whale Watching Boat Was In Restricted Area

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A group of whale watchers expecting a three-hour tour got much more after their boat was snagged by a commercial ship mooring line off Massachusetts and they were forced to spend a long night at sea.

Boston Harbor Cruises, which operates the vessel, says it is cooperating with the U.S. Coast Guard's investigation into whether operator error caused the boat to veer into a "restricted management area," where one of the vessel's propellers became entangled in a mooring line owned by Excelerate Energy.

The whale watch vessel was freed early Tuesday and docked shortly after 8 a.m. at Boston's Long Wharf. No injuries were reported to any of the 157 passengers or six crew members.

"Everybody is safe and secure," said Sheila Green, a spokeswoman for the company that operates the vessel. She described passengers smiling and waving from the deck as the boat approached shore.

"It was long and boring, but, you know, I've got to give a tremendous amount of respect to the crew," passenger Arthur Evans told WBUR. "They were there for every need you had. They brought out provisions. They brought blankets. They brought pillows."

Evans said he never felt in danger.

"At no time were we worried about whether we were going to sink or anything like that," he said.

One of the boat's propellers became entangled on the line Monday about 15 miles offshore. Divers hired by the vessel's owner succeeded in freeing the boat early Tuesday, Coast Guard Petty Officer MyeongHi Clegg told The Associated Press.

"They were able to untangle the line from the propeller," said Clegg.

Two Coast Guard cutters remained with the vessel during the night, she said, making sure the passengers were safe and that there were no medical problems.

Ken Maguire, one of the passengers on the boat, said they had expected to be back Monday around 4:30 p.m. but about 10 minutes into the return trip, the boat stopped after apparently hitting something.

Passengers will receive a refund on their $50 ticket, a $100 gift card for a future Boston Harbor Cruise and $500 cash for their troubles, Green said.

Would Evans ever take another whale watch cruise?

"Without a doubt," Evans said. "Stuff breaks. It happens."

With reporting from WBUR Newsroom and the Associated Press. 

This article was originally published on July 29, 2014.


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