Port Angeles Coast Guard copter dispatched after schooner mast snaps, injuring two
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The snapped mast of the schooner Zodiac is shown in the waters off the San Juan Islands on Saturday. -- Photo by U.S. Coast Guard

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Peninsula Daily News

FRIDAY HARBOR -- The 126-foot main mast of a schooner often seen in Port Townsend, Victoria and the San Juan Islands snapped while sailing near the San Juans on Saturday.

Two passengers were injured in the afternoon incident aboard the 86-year-old Zodiac, a Coast Guard spokesman said Saturday night.

An eyewitness reported that 22 schoolchildren were aboard for a day sail in clear and sunny conditions when its main mast broke in half and fell across the port side.

The Coast Guard responded to a distress call from the Bellingham-based charter vessel about 2 p.m.

The 127-foot, double-masted schooner was just north of Lummi Island, and the Coast Guard launched an MH065 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles as well as two 33-foot response boats out of Bellingham.

One passenger received a concussion while the other had an injured arm, the Coast Guard said.

The injured, who were unidentified, were transferred to one of the Coast Guard boats and transported to Goose Point, where they were met by paramedics.

The remaining passengers were transferred to a nearby motor vessel, which returned them to Bellingham Bay.

The crew of the cutter Terrapin assisted and then towed the stricken Zodiac back to Bellingham.

A Coast Guard vessel inspector and marine casualty investigator from Sector Puget Sound will investigate the mast-breaking, the Coast Guard said.

According to the Zodiac's website, the schooner was built in Maine in 1924 and includes 7,000 square feet of sail area as well as a 500-horsepower diesel engine.

It can carry 40 passengers on a day sail and berth 26 passengers overnight.

Last modified: September 25. 2010 11:27PM
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