Alaska Commercial Fishing and other Maritime Losses of 1985

January 6, 1985     Kodiak resident Rick Phillips from the George W was lost near Sitkalidak Island when the vessels skiff swamped.

January 14, 1985     Jon Early of Kodiak was lost when the 34 foot K-Jo sank off Marmot Island.  Two men from the K-Jo were rescued on January 16th.

February 14, 1985     The 83 foot Alert went missing in the Shelikof Straits with five souls aboard.  She was last seen heading for shelter toward Bumble Bay making ice.  Lost were captain Mel Wick, Sean Heaney, Ray Basel, Paul Rowe and Svernin Ben-Adalsteinson.

March 7, 1985     One crewmember was lost overboard from the crab fishing vessel Ocean Bounty.  Two weeks later the vessel flooded and sank south of Cape Saint Elias.

May 16, 1985     The seiner Anna O grounded while towing the vessel Head and Tail.  Both vessels sank in the surf.  The operator of the Anna O was never found.

May 20, 1985     Four people were rescued and Ben Cantu (39) was lost when the fishing vessel Kimberly sank 80 miles northwest of Dutch Harbor.

July 6, 1985     An unnamed skiff was found adrift in Chignik Lagoon; two were lost.

July 6, 1985     Four people were lost from an unnamed fiberglass skiff when the anchor snagged in choppy seas and the vessel capsized less than a mile west of Ninilchik in Cook Inlet.  Bob Boutang was the only survivor.  Lost were Forrest Boutang (9), Brett Boutang (14), Clark Girton (51) and Michael Blanch (58).

July 16, 1985     One person was lost overboard off of the 65 foot Pandad.

July 25, 1985     Five children and one adult were lost from the Kiyuklook family when their unnamed 18 foot skiff swamped off of Savoonga.  Two others drowned from a second 16 foot skiff attempting to rescue the Kiyuklook family.

July 26, 1985     Two people tried to swim ashore from an unnamed skiff when their outboard ran out of gas on the northeast side of Shuyak Island.  Only one survived.

August 7, 1985     The 90 foot barge tender Sea Dancer sank 60 miles N of False Pass on the Alaska Peninsula with the loss of one person.

August 7, 1985     One person was lost when an unnamed small boat capsized in heavy seas off of Glacier Island in Prince William Sound.

August 20, 1985     Six people were lost when the 58 foot Western Sea sank somewhere NE of Kodiak Island.  Parts of the vessel were found east of Long Island. Lost were captain Jerald Bouchard of Coupeville WA, Peter Barry of New Hampshire, Chris McLain of Idaho Falls ID, Steward Darling of Bremerton WA, Chris Hofer of Ft Collins CO and Bill Posey of Anchorage.

September 2, 1985     Six people drowned when their 24 foot flat bottomed river boat collided with a bull moose on the Koyukuk River between Hughes and Allakaket. Arthur F. Ambrose (32), Carol Ann Ambrose (24), Ruth H. Beatus (27), Henry Beatus Jr. (26), Raymond Beatus (24) and Robert W. Nictune (22) were lost.

September 6, 1985     Ken Kronk (28) was lost when the 70 foot steel tender Pacific Lady capsized and sank near Cape Spencer. Five other crewmembers were rescued by a U S Coast Guard helicopter.

October 26, 1985     One person and one dog survived and two people and a dog were lost when a 12 foot unsinkable plastic skiff capsized between Ketchikan and Deep Bay to the north.  Lost were Joe Walker, LeCrissa “Jinx” Walker and their dog Bandit.

27 Replies to “Alaska Commercial Fishing and other Maritime Losses of 1985”

  1. My heart goes out to all the survivors of all the souls lost at sea, I spent 15 years in the fishing Industry on the east coast, Greenport N.Y, New Bedford Mass., Cape May N.J., and swordfishing out of Pompano Beach Fla. , More than once I felt the wrath of the sea, and consider myself blessed to still walk this earth.I am writing this in hopes that someone may have a photo of the Alert, lost on Feb. 14th ,1985, with my friend Shawn Heaney on board ,please reply ,thank you in advance,

    1. Thanks for the thoughts Charles. I don’t have a photo of the Alert in the files yet but am hunting for one through my contacts in Kodiak and on facebook.

  2. RE: September 6, 1985

    One person was lost when the 78 foot Pacific Lady rolled over in Icy Straits, 20 miles west of Cape Spencer.

    Warren: Icy Straits is EAST of Cape Spencer. West of C. Spencer is the Gulf of Alaska.

    1. Thanks JR..I made the correction. My information came from the Kodiak Harbormaster’s List which I am very grateful for. Do you know the name of the person lost?

      1. Ken Cronk was the crewmember who was lost. He had helped other crew get off of the sinking vessel but was disappeared when the vessel sank and was presumed to have gotten tangled in the rigging and pulled under. Never forgotten.

  3. Re: fishing vessel the alert that went down feb 14 1985. I have a photo of the alert that Charles was wanting. Captain mel wick is my uncle.

    1. Thanks Candyce. If you could email me at [email protected] we can figure out a way to share that picture of the Alert. I was the engineer on the Elizabeth F fishing with the Alert when they went missing. That tragedy is one of the reasons that I am posting this website. Mel and the rest of the crew are still missed by many.

      1. I worked on the Alert with Mel.
        I still think of Ray Basel who also went down on the Alert. Ray and I worked on another boat together. Memories of him will always be with me.

    2. I was there the night of the sinking, I was working on the Fishing Vessel Lady of Good Voyage. Horrible weather that night with lots of Icing, we were all trying to make the bays on the North Side. They were farther south and couldn’t make it, so they turned for Bumble Bay. The Lady of Good Voyage sank in the 90’s in the Bering Sea with the loss of crew.

      1. I was there too Dan. I was working as engineer on the Elizabeth F. We were all fishing midwater for pollack. We delivered early and headed for Kodiak. That was some of the nastiest weather I have ever seen. It came in quick right when the tide changed. We went back out looking for Mel and the rest of the crew on the Alert. That was February of 1985. In 1988 I worked as engineer on a boat called the Bon Su Mar out in the Bering Sea. A friend from Kodiak named Jay was on there too. He went down with the Lady of Good Voyage. Sad times.

        1. Were you working for Bruce or Kevin on Bon Su Mar.? I started running Lady of Good Voyage in the summer of 85 I believe and ran it until about 1990. I was running the Seeker and was about 20 miles away when the CG started calling the LGV . Sad day

          1. Matt Donney was running the BonSuMar when I came on. I was on for three trips as engineer. The first trip was Matt, Rob, Rod and me. The second was Matt, “Tiny” (Casey), Jay and me. The third was same crew as the second. I was on from February 10, 1988 until March 31, 1988. Jay Scott-Hunter was a friend from Kodiak. We called him Australian Jay because of his accent. I got him the job on the BonSuMar. I did not realize he had been lost on the Lady of Good Voyage until I put two and two together in my shipwreck research years later. I was also engineer on the Elizabeth F with Stormy for quite a few seasons and remember working alongside the Lady of Good Voyage. I remember a Dan that engineered for Kim on the Lady of Good Voyage during the 1985 JV season. My notes say Dan on the Lady of Good Voyage nights, Norm on the Barbara Lee and Shawn on the Golden Fleece fishing for the Otoro Maru. I think that was midwater pollack July to September that year up in the Bering Sea. That was not a very productive season. You and I may have chatted because we were both engineers and both in the wheelhouse overnight.

      2. Dan, I was just looking in my notes from the JV we were on and see the Lady of Good Voyage (Dan), Golden Fleece (Shawn) and Barbara Lee (Norm) on the list for the Otoro Maru. We were delivering to them also with the Elizabeth F (Stormy).It also says Kim for the Lady of Good Voyage and Dan engineer. I must have talked to you on the radio.

        1. No Kim that I can remember, it would have been Dave Olney for that season. There was a Kim that ran the Golden Fleece I believe. I also remember a 10000 dollar a day fine for leaving the grounds, that was in the JV contract. I think we were given two fuel days and that was about it, that’s why Alert and LGV were out in that storm. There’s no other reason for it with bays on either side of Shelikof Strait. I can also remember repairing a trawl winch out in open water that could have been done in a bay that we could see, but Dave said I can’t leave the grounds. It was about a 18 hour miserable job, freezing cold and we had to strip all 700 fathoms of wire off the winch and coil it on deck.

      3. I was out there in that storm as well .
        135’ F/V 100+ kt winds . That was in a bay !. The freezing spray was hard to keep up with.
        We were on our hands and knees swinging pipe. If you put your head above the rail you would get blown back.
        After the Alert went down . The Capt called us up to inform of the Alert was probably gone. He heard their frantic May Day that they were iced up and unable to keep up with it building.
        Our Capt said ; Do you all want to F’n Die tonight? Get back out on deck and beat ice like your life depended on it . Because it does.
        We beat ice for like 15 hours straight.
        RIP men of the Alert

  4. 5-16-85 around 6 p.m. on a stormy Softuk bar, Bob Gill’s gillnetter “Heads & Tails” was found. He had left Cordova towing his gillnetter to the fishing grounds with his seine boat the Anna O. He would stay on his bigger boat the Anna O inbetween the fish openers. His friend Dean Curran from Cordova towed the found gillnetter to my tender the Heidi Sue. When the fish opener was over, I towed the gillnetter back to Cordova to his family.

  5. I am the cousin of Chris McLain who was lost on the Western Sea on 19 Aug 1985. I am trying to find any info./pictures of this boat etc. Any info. will be help.
    Thank you very much. (My mother is sister to Chris’s dad.)
    Preston Kelley
    Sunnyside, Wash.

    1. I do not have a picture but I will watch for one. The Western Sea was built in 1915 at Dockton, Washington and was originally named Saint John. In 1958 the vessel was owned by the Whiz Fish Products Company and became the Western Sea when Peter Pan Seafoods purchased it some time before 1965. She had a registered length of 52.0 feet, breadth of 14.1 feet and depth of 6.3 feet. Her tonnage was 32 Gross 22 Net, radio call sign WB2362 and official number 213251. The owner at the time of the loss was Jerald W. Bouchard who went down with the boat.

    2. Hello Preston, I crewed on the Western Sea three seasons in Kodiak with Jerry Bouchard. Last in 1980 I think. I have a number of pictures of the boat, though I will have to dig some to find them. please contact me if you are still interested.

      [email protected]

  6. I fished in Alaska out of Dutch from 85 till 91 tendered from 91 till 92 then went back to building anyone know what happened to f/v polar command out of attack my cousin Frank Schmidt was on there

    1. According to my records, the Polar Command was lost in 1989: POLAR COMMAND (1989) The 122 foot steel diesel powered fishing vessel Polar Command stranded and was lost October 15, 1989 at the east end of South Cove on Chuginadak Island in the Aleutians. The entire crew of 26 was rescued.
      Mapping and Location: Southwest Alaska 52 50 N 169 45 W Chart 16011
      Additional Information: Tonnage 199 gross 124 Net, Length 122.1, Breadth 32, Depth 11.5, Former Baroid Rocket, ON 297337, Built 1964, Owner Deep Sea Fisheries Inc., SL WU6601
      Sources: 1. USCG Maritime Information Exchange, 2. Shipwrecks on the Alaska Maritime Wildlife Refuge “Chuginadak Island”

  7. My uncle was Chris Hofer on the Western Sea – I never knew the date or details as I was 5yrs old at the time but I know the devastation my family on the whole has continued to feel at this loss. It’s deep and long and the grief only ebbs and flows for many.

  8. I was out there in that storm as well .
    135’ F/V 100+ kt winds . That was in a bay !. The freezing spray was hard to keep up with.
    We were on our hands and knees swinging pipe. If you put your head above the rail you would get blown back.
    After the Alert went down . The Capt called us up to inform of the Alert probably gone. He heard their frantic May Day that they were iced up and unable to keep up with it building.
    Our Capt said ; Do you all want to F’n Die tonight? Get back out on deck and beat ice like your life depended on it . Because it does.
    We beat ice for like 15 hours straight.
    RIP men of the Alert

  9. I was on the F/V Sea Wolf fishing along side the F/V Alert. We listened to the radio and heard the silence. It was a terrible day. After we delivered our cod end we headed for Bumble Bay. Chopping ice all the way, and kept chopping in the bay. My skipper, Bob Watson, was vigilant about keeping an eye on us at all times because the wind would push you on the icy decks, unless you had something to hang on to, you were skating. I will never forget it.

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