Investigation into SF Bay boating accident launched

October 14, 2012 10:39:27 AM PDT
We're learning more about what happened on that passenger boat that hit rocks and began sinking in the San Francisco Bay. 22 people had to be rescued after the accident Friday night near Alcatraz Island.

The group was enjoying a bachelor party when their boat, called "Neptune," hit a shoal near Alcatraz and immediately started taking on water and sinking.

"The gear was working great, the captain and crew, in my opinion, were in tip-top shape," said Melissa McDowell, owner of Wine Tasting on the Bay. McDowell and her family started their wine tasting business in March, "We were ready to just go, go, go and then freak accident on the Bay."

It was an accident that left two large holes torn into the boat's hull, making it impossible to sail. McDowell says she had bookings guaranteed through November. But now, she says everything is on hold, "I made a lot of calls this morning, told some of my customers the disappointing news."

Captain Philip Delano towed the boat in for repair. He says the accident that grounded the Neptune- could have been avoided, "Well, they hit the rock. The buoy marks the rock, they went inside and basically, it was a navigational error."

According to McDowell, the Neptune's captain has almost 20 years of nautical experience under his belt. She immediately ruled out drugs and alcohol, "The crew is tested within two hours on the alcohol test and we do drug testing."

Petty Officer Pamela Boehland says an official investigation is underway, but notes that boating accidents in the Bay happen all the time, "They happen to the most seasoned maritime veterans and they happen to people just going out for the day in a kayak."

The Neptune will sail again. It will take about six to eight weeks to repair, making it ready just in time for the Thanksgiving Holiday.