Disaster in Anacortes: Capsize Company Dismisses Entire Workforce

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The first victims of the capsizing of a $10 million, 90-foot yacht in Anacortes late Sunday evening were the men and women who built the boat.

The following Tuesday the management of New World Boat Builders (which builds Northern Marine yachts) sent home its staff of about 50. It’s uncertain when – or if – they will be asked to return to work.

The company faces the same uncertainty. It faces tremendous liability issues in dealing with the boat’s owner, insurance companies and lawyers and is bearing huge costs involved in the refloating of the expedition style yacht. It cannot predict when it may resume production.

One unfinished 80-footer is in the company’s fabrication building but it is tangled in legal and financial issues and construction work halted last August.

The 90-footer, which is designated as a Northern Marine 85, rolled onto its port side as it was being launched from a ramp on the city’s waterfront. Wes Fridell, a company spokesman, said its crews have lunched a number of large yachts at the same ramp without incident.

A marine salvage crew righted the yacht at high tide the next evening. Fridell said the hull suffered only a few exterior scratches. Seawater flooded the interior of the boat through the engine room ventilation system. All electrical systems and furnishings were damaged by seawater.

The capsizing is being investigated by the Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board. Fridell said his company hopes it soon will receive Coast Guard permission to move the yacht, which is being held in place by a huge salvage crane. It also hinders access to some yacht moorage slips in the marina.