One boat ran aground and another half sank in choppy waters, but both were rescued by tenders from Caribbean Marine Services, which moved between 10,000 and 12,000 cruise passengers through the stormy harbor on Wednesday.
Six cruise ships carrying almost 15,000 passengers docked Wednesday in George Town, braving high seas not sufficiently rough to reroute them to the Spotts anchorage in Prospect, but roiled enough that tender operators had to work slowly, navigating “bouncy” conditions.
Red Sail Sports’ Coral Spirit dive boat ran into trouble during the afternoon, leaving its bow submerged and its stern protruding above the surface. One of Caribbean Marine Services’ 16 tenders plying the harbor towed the vessel to safety.
Red Sail Account Manager Bill Edwards blamed the mishap on the high seas. No one was injured, he said.
“While on the way to safe harbor in South Sound … a 42-foot custom dive boat experienced a few waves over the bow which filled her front end with excessive seawater.
“Luckily, CMS tenders were on the spot to assist her to safety in South Sound at which point a group effort of Harbour House, Red Sail and CMS crews worked to have her floated by 8 p.m.”
“As of today,” Mr. Edwards said Thursday, “the vessel was running but remains in South Sound with plans to be moved to the marina when sea conditions allow. Fortunately, no one was injured and Red Sail Sports is very thankful to all those who lent a helping hand.”
Caribbean Marine Services General Manager David Carmichael said, “You can never leave anyone stranded. It’s a service we provide. Anyone that is stranded, we are always the first to go out.”
Caribbean Marine Services also towed off Hog Sty Bay beach a tender – from the 721-passenger Seven Seas Explorer – driven ashore by the high seas.
“We are responsible for four of the ships,” Mr. Carmichael said, but not for the other two,” the Nieuw Amsterdam and the Seven Seas Explorer, “but we ended up helping out with the Seven Seas.”
Port Authority Security Manager Joseph Woods said the weather – 0.34 inches of rain in one hour, waves between 4 feet and 5 feet and wind gusts up to 30 knots – meant “difficulty for some of the smaller tenders,” as they moved passengers across heaving gangways alongside the anchored ships.
“It took a little longer, but no one was hurt,” he said.
Caribbean Marine Services’ 16 boats – 12 with a capacity of 250 and four that carry 80 – suspended operations between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. as a severe squall crossed the harbor.
“But we knew it was coming,” Mr. Carmichael said, explaining that a weather buoy transmits updates every 10 minutes.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Shamal Clarke said the rain had fallen in a single hour, with winds from the south southeast, driving wave heights.
Mr. Woods said the port authority canceled Thursday’s three cruise arrivals – carrying 8,776 passengers – due to continuing inclement weather.