This article has been updated to include new information and correctly identify Shelby Martin as the sole owner of the Alaskan Shel.
After a close call Wednesday evening, a sinking ship was pulled from the water thanks to efforts from the ship’s owner and others before it fully submerged at Don D. Statter Harbor.
“Everything is good, the boat has been pulled out of the water thanks to the wonderful harbor community and everyone dropped what they were doing and helped out and saved the boat from going all the way under,” said Matt Creswell, City and Borough of Juneau harbormaster.
Shelby Martin, the owner of the Alaskan Shel, said she was just getting off her other charter boat when she was alerted that it appeared the boat was sinking while it sat tied up at the Harbor early evening.
“It just started sinking, we have no idea,” said Cat Myers, who helps manage the charter business that the boat is a part of and was dockside while efforts to pull the boat from the water were underway.
By 7 p.m. the boat had been slowly taking on water and sinking deeper into the harbor for more than an hour before Martin, bystanders and other nearby boats at the harbor worked to outboard and tow the boat out of the water.
The incident was deemed a “non-pollution event,” Creswell said, and noted that although the harbor cautions people to keep a careful eye on their boats, “things can happen at any time, and things can just fail on boats.”
The charter boat, owned by Martin for around seven years, is one of two boats that are part of Martin’s whale-watching and fishing charter business 49th Fathom Charters. It did not seem to have any issues that would cause concern of it sinking, and had just finished a successful eight-hour trip on the water when it arrived at the harbor after dropping off people at Fisherman’s Bend. Martin said after talking to the captain and the guests of the trip, they confirmed that there were no signs of water coming into the boat or damage when it was docked.
“A boat sinking is like your worst nightmare,” Martin said. “This is the first incident that the boat has ever had, and we’re really at a loss of what really happened here — we really don’t know what happened.”
The boat is currently at Broken Rudder Inc. to undergo an assessment to understand what happened and possible causes, but “there’s no damage to the hull, there’s no anything — we have no idea, no idea,” she said.
Martin said she is thankful that the boat did not sink, and said without the other boats and bystanders helping, she doesn’t think that would be the case.
“I am so beyond grateful for all of the bystanders that helped at the scene, and before I had even arrived people were already down there and I am so grateful for them and so appreciative of their help — that boat would have been sunk to the ground if it weren’t for them,” she said.