The boat was carrying 23 associates when it ran aground Friday morning, December 16.
Less than two weeks after the General II ran aground on a rocky outcropping near the entrance to Enighed Pond Marine Facility, a Westin Resort and Villas ferry ran hard aground in the same area on Friday morning, December 16.
The 71-foot Westin Breeze had 23 passengers, one crew member and the captain on board when it went hard aground right inside of the red buoy off Moorehead Point.
“We had 23 associates on the boat,” said Westin Resort manager Mike Ryan. “It was our associate run from St. Thomas.”
The passengers and the one crew member were evacuated from Westin Breeze by local boaters and brought to the resort where they were checked out by St. John Rescue officials, explained Ryan.
“We had all of our associates checked out here at the hotel by St. John Rescue and Dr. James Clayton who were on the property,” said Ryan. “They were also all transported to Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center for follow up examinations.”
Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center officials confirmed last week that some passengers were being treated for back and neck strains.
“We’re seeing people with back strain and neck sprains,” said the MKSCHC official. “There are no life threatening injuries or severe bleeding or anything. We’re just doing X-Rays and looking at sprains and strains.”
U.S. Coast Guard officials received a call around 9:15 a.m. on December 16 that a vessel was in distress in the area of Moorehead Point, according Roberto Castrodad, USCG spokesperson.
“As the information came in, we found out we were dealing with a passenger vessel,” Castrodad said. “The vessel was heading to St. John and had entered the channel just off Moorehead Point when it went hard aground. There were several vessels on the scene assisting and taking passengers off the ferry.”
USCG officials deployed their 25-foot response boat from its Marine Safety Detachment in St. Thomas, Castrodad explained.
“When our Coast Guard boat arrived on scene all of the passengers and the one crew member were off of the boat and the only one on the vessel was the captain,” said the USCG spokesperson. “Our personnel went on board to see what was going on and they saw that the vessel was taking on water.”
A vessel from the St. Thomas marine salvage company Sea Tow was en route to the scene of the accident, according to Castrodad.
“Sea Tow was on its way to see if it was possible to salvage the boat,” said Castrodad. “There was no indication of the vessel leaking oil or fuel but that is one of the things that we’ll be monitoring. We’ll be investigating the cause of the incident as well.”
As of press time, Sea Tow had removed Westin Breeze from the reef and was making its way to Tortola, according to Ryan.
“It’s my understanding that at this time Sea Tow did temporary repairs and is on its way towing Westin Breeze to Tortola,” said the resort manager.
Westin Breeze is owned and operated by Inter-Island Boat Services, according to Ryan, who did not have any information on the identity of the captain of the vessel or what caused the accident.
“I have no idea what happened,” said Ryan. “It’s under investigation.”
Ryan thanked local boaters who helped rescue passengers from the ferry.
“I want to thank the local boaters who actually rescued the associates from the boat and transported them back to the hotel,” said Ryan.
The ferry grounding capped a tough several months for Westin Resort officials as they spent months recovering from damage to ballrooms, property, tennis courts and the pool from October floods