ORCAS ISLAND, Wash. - A Washington State Ferry hit a small sailboat in the San Juan Islands Friday, which sank shortly after.
The Hyak hit the 27-foot sailboat between Orcas and Shaw islands.
Matthew Barnett and his wife had just started their vacation and boarded the Hyak in Anacortes.
After stopping at Lopez Island, the Hyak headed toward Orcas Island for the next stop.
Barnett said he and his wife were on the right side of the ferry as it entered Harney Channel between Shaw and Orcas islands. The channel is relatively narrow, at a third-mile wide.
Barnett said as the Hyak approached the sailboat, named Taysa, neither vessel honked.
According to Barnett, it was only at the very last moment that the ferry tried to turn away from the sailboat, but it was too late.
"We saw the boat impact the ferry," Barnett said. "The boat went underneath the ferry and (the ferry) went completely over it. We walked over to the right side of the boat saw it shoot out from underneath."
Barnett said the one man on the sailboat appeared dazed.
The ferry launched a rescue boat and the sailor was pulled off of his boat, uninjured.
Vessel Assist, which helps stranded boaters, said that the sailboat sank 20-30 minutes later.
A longtime captain in the San Juans said since the sailboat did not have its sails up, it did not automatically have the right of way. But since it approached the ferry on the ferry’s starboard side, maritime law would dictate that the ferry should have yielded.
"It looked like negligence on two sides," Barnett said. "The boat captain in the sailboat, who was apparently below deck under power, and the ferry captain who completely did not see it."
All passengers on both vessels are safe, and no one was hurt.