News: Schooner Sailing Yacht Alta Hits reef and sinks off Galapagos Islands

March 20, 2010 by Yachtie
View large version of image: Schooner Sailing Yacht Alta Hits reef and sinks off Galapagos Islands

According to an incident report posted on the Adventure Travel News website, the M/S Alta yacht struck a reef around 8:30 p.m. local time while entering a harbour on the southern coast of Santa Cruz Island. “Reports indicate that the lighthouse that serves as a reference point to the harbour entrance was not working, which is believed to have been the primary contributor to the incident,” the report said.

This photo released by Galapagos National Park shows the grounded yacht Alta in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, on Thursday.

The 16 Canadians and eight Ecuadorean crew members suffered no injuries and were put up at a waterfront hotel in Santa Cruz.

No injuries were reported in the Wednesday evening rescue by navy and national park vessels, which the 140-foot (46-meter) yacht’s operator described as “safe and orderly.”

All were taken to nearby Santa Cruz Island, where the operator, Quasar Expeditions, was transferring them to other boats to finish their tour of the archipelago, said its local marketing manager, Fernando Diez.

He said the mishap may have been the fault of the yacht Alta’s captain, but that the company was not yet sure.

Galapagos National Park vessels, the Ecuadorean navy and Alta crew members assisted with the evacuation.

Diez said the incident aboard the 42-metre schooner did not change Thursday’s schedule of activities. The tourists preceded to Charles Darwin Station and the Santa Cruz highlands to view tortoises in the wild.

Scheduled to depart Saturday, Diez said the group decided to cut the tour a half-day short and left Friday afternoon for Guayaquil where they will catch their flight home.

Efforts are now underway to remove the yacht from the reef.

“Fuel is being removed and containment measures are in place to mitigate any leaks should they occur, but none have been reported to date,” the incident reported stated.

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