The Fishing Vessel Bunchie began taking on water Sunday night while fishing in the Nushagak District near Ekuk. None of the four people aboard were injured.
The Bunchie is a Rawson in the Bristol Bay drift fleet. The boat came very close to sinking last Sunday, and would have were it not for the help of another vessel. The Bunchie was towed to the harbor Wednesday morning after the crew bailed the water out.
The fishing vessel Bunchie was overloaded with sockeye on Sunday night when the boat began to list and eventually take on water. The crew aboard were picked up by another boat as they were putting on their survival suits and getting ready to board a life raft.
“We got 50 (fathoms) on board and we started listing really low in the water, and waves were coming over in the back and everybody was scrambling to try to find the water pumps to pump the water out,” said John Casteel, a crew member aboard the Bunchie.
The boat was deck-loaded. Casteel estimates more than 12 thousand pounds of sockeye were aboard when the Bunchie started to take on water.
“The net started smoking,” said Casteel. “The biggest set we ever did in history—enough to sink our boat.”
The Bunchie’s skipper is Beatrice Grewal. She says she and her crew were rescued by the fishing vessel Ann Louise as they were getting ready to board a life raft.
“Next thing I know, there’s a boat there.” said Grewal. “I was very distraught. I didn’t want my boat to sink. I kept praying: come on Bunchie, don’t sink, don’t sink.”
The Bunchie did not sink.
The Ann Louise was able to tow the Bunchie to the beach before the boat became fully submerged. The crew came back to the boat the next day to set the anchor and bail out the water. The Bunchie was towed into the Dillingham harbor early Wednesday morning.
“Well the boat is done,” said Grewal. “We’re looking for a partner boat, if they want to D-boat and they need a crew.”
Both Grewal and Casteel say they are thankful for all who assisted in the rescue of the Bunchie and her crew.
The Bunchie was pulled out of the water Wednesday, and is now at the PAF boat yard in Dillingham awaiting repairs.
Contact KDLG’s fisheries reporter Nick Ciolino at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-842-5281