August 5, 2018 2:38 pm

Operator of tour boat that ran aground near Second Narrows Bridge hit with fine

WATCH: The operator of the tour boat that ran aground while navigating the Second Narrows Bridge has been slapped with a fine, and Transport Canada says it's now investigating. Kristen Robinson reports

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Transport Canada has detained a vessel from a Vancouver passenger boat operator after an incident in Indian Arm last month.

On July 27, Pacific Ferries’ Coastal Runner was carrying 17 passengers for a tour of Indian Arm when Vancouver police say it ran aground near the Second Narrows Bridge around 4:30 p.m.

Witnesses told Global News the captain got stuck on the rocks in shallow water and then appeared to repeatedly back the boat up and drive it forward again before deciding to pull out.

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“He decided, OK, well, I can’t ram my boat through anymore so I’m gonna pull out and then as he was pulling out and grinding his prop he hit the other shoreline, spun the boat around and then hit right beside the train bridge and repeatedly hit the rocks again,” said Guy Miller, who captured the incident on video.

READ MORE: Boat runs aground on Vancouver’s Sunset Beach as Boat Safety Awareness Week kicks off

Pacific Ferries owner Ihab Shaker said his captain was able to free the vessel after about five to 10 minutes and that it only had a minor impact with the sandbar.

Shaker admitted the captain lost focus and did not account for the low tide, telling Global News he wanted to show the passengers the shipyards and some locations where seals are sometimes seen.

The operator ended up on the wrong side of the train bridge before witnesses say he pulled his boat back and went the proper way.

“My concern was for the passengers…this was not a safe tour,” Miller said.

According to marine law expert Darren Williams, any grounding of a vessel is a close call for passengers and “a grounding in high currents is even more dangerous.”

READ MORE: Tug boat and fuel barge run aground near Bella Bella: crew rescued, leak reported

In this incident, the Pacific Ferries’ boat was out of the vessel traffic lane.

“What was clear in this case, the vessel master had the ship far too close to shoreline and appeared to have lost what we refer to as situational awareness,” Williams said.

The Vancouver Police Department’s Marine Unit issued the 48-year-old Pacific Ferries’ operator a $575 ticket for unsafe operation of a vessel.

The Coastal Runner continued its tour to the north end of Indian Arm. The vessel was unscathed, according to Shaker.

Transport Canada has since pulled the Coastal Runner from service after conducting a thorough compliance inspection. The vessel is currently undergoing repairs and will not be released until further inspection by the federal department responsible for transportation safety.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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