May 13, 2003
American Safari's 12-passenger Safari Spirit, sailing an Inside Passage/Alaska itinerary, ended its latest cruise in just about the most abrupt manner possible. The yacht ran aground on rocks and began to sink, requiring the 16 passengers and crew to abandon ship via lifeboat. There were no injuries. The Safari Spirit was on its way from Seattle to Juneau -- about 140 kilometers north of Port Hardy, Vancouver Island -- when the accident occurred around 7 a.m. The lifeboat took passengers and crew to the hamlet of Shearwater before being flown back to Seattle. Other boats in the area reportedly aided retrieval of personal items from the ship. Safari Spirit was built in 1983. The yacht is still aground -- rescue efforts have, so far, failed -- and, according to a spokesman, "is stuck in the mud to stern with about 25 - 30 ft. of the yacht in the air." He says it's too early to tell whether the company will be able to repair the yacht. In the meantime, American Safari, which providentially just added a third vessel to its fleet -- the 12-passenger Safari Escape -- says that the new yacht, sailing the same itineraries as Safari Spirit will accommodate most, if not all, travelers who had booked cruises on the now-disabled ship.