The Leylon Sneed drifted aground at the Trunk Bay reef near Jumbie Beach on Tuesday afternoon, February 19, as the vessel was loading up cruise ship passengers for their return trip to St. Thomas, damaging both the boat and the reef.
The boat quickly drifted onto the reef around 3:50 p.m. when the mooring chain it was attached to — installed specifically for the Leylon Sneed’s use, according to vessel co-owner Delbert Parsons — broke. Parsons was returning to the V.I. from Miami at the time and was not on the boat when the accident occurred.
“The mooring chain broke and the wind was blowing so hard that by the time the captain turned around to make his move, it was already on the reef,” said Parsons.
None of the boat’s nearly 70 passengers were injured in the accident, Parsons added.
“Nobody was hurt at all,” he said. “The crew’s concern was the passengers, and everybody was safe.”
The passengers were shuttled back to the beach from the grounded vessel and transported by taxi to Cruz Bay, according to a V.I. National Park press release.
Reef Damage Being Assessed
The Leylon Sneed was towed off the reef by Sea Tow at around 5:45 that evening, and was able to return to Cruz Bay harbor under its own power.
“We haven’t checked the bottom but we have to do a dive and see what damage was done,” said Parsons. “The boat is sailing pretty good so far. If there is any damage, it will be minor.”
Parsons is unhappy about the accident, he continued.
“As far as having the boat go up on the rocks, I don’t think that’s something that should have happened,” he said. “I can’t say I was happy about that at all, but you try your best to get moving again and deal with it.”
VINP resource management personnel snorkeled over the reef while the Leylon Sneed was still grounded, and discovered damage to the threatened acropora coral, likely due to the grounding. Initial damage assessment of the reef began on February 21, and the incident continues to be investigated by the U.S. Coast Guard and the VINP.