BACK ON DRY LAND: Coast Guard Seamen assist patrons to disembark from their vessel the TTS Hummingbird, which was used last night to evacuate passengers off the stricken party cruise vessel the Harbour Master, which ran into an artificial reef located off the Port of Spain harbour around 5.30 p.m. yesterday.
—Photos: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK
Party boat runs aground
The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard came to the rescue of over 540 passengers yesterday evening after the pleasure vessel the Harbour Master ran aground after setting sail from Cocorite.
Lieutenant Commander Kirk Jean-Baptiste told the Express last night that around 5.30 p.m. the Coast Guard received a distress call from the boat which hosts parties.
A patrol vessel was dispatched to investigate.
Two Coast Guard officers were sent abroad the Harbour Master to discern whether it was taking on water. After checking, the vessel was deemed safe, however.
Boat-owner Adrian Scoon, who spoke to the Express, said it was discovered that the boat had run aground on a reef made up of sunken derelict vessels about an hour and a half into the trip. The reef was intentionally placed there as a break-water for the Port of Port of Spain.
Scoon said a decision was made not to tug the boat and this could have resulted in the vessel’s hull being punctured. He said however that when the tide rose tomorrow (this morning) they will again attempt to move the boat.
Jean-Baptiste further explained that even during low tide there is a channel used by vessels to safely navigate into the Port of Spain harbour.
The Express also spoke to a few passengers including Cassandra Picton, who said that yesterday’s trip was to celebrate her 25th birthday. She said that as they were about an hour and a half into the cruise the boat stopped suddenly and she spilled her drink.
“But the party continued and even when I left there there were still people dancing on the boat but we never felt unsafe,” she said.
She said that she and her friends never felt that they were in any danger since the lights of the capital were clearly visible.
“This is Trinidad,” she said.
Up to 9 p.m. last night the Coast Guard was using vessels to ferry passengers off the boat to safety.