Skipper safe after boat grounds, burns in Sitka Sound

The 47-foot Saami went hard aground on Six-Mile Rock in Sitka Sound on Aug. 29, 2020. (KCAW image)

A fisherman is safe after his vessel ran aground and later burned over the weekend off Sitka. The 47-foot Saami went hard aground on Six-Mile Rock in Sitka Sound on Saturday night.

The skipper of the Saami, Cale LaDuke, was the only person on board at the time of the incident. He put out a distress call over VHF radio sometime after 10 p.m. on Aug. 29. An Air Station Sitka helicopter responded and hoisted LaDuke from the rock at 10:52 P.M.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Melissa McKenzie credits LaDuke with making all the right moves after the Saami got into trouble. She says LaDuke went ashore on Six-Mile Rock with emergency gear in a dry bag. In addition to his VHF radio, he had a phone, flares and headlamp — all of which contributed to his speedy rescue.

McKenzie reports that the Saami caught fire sometime Sunday and was seriously damaged. She says that, weather permitting, a salvage company will inspect the wreck on Tuesday to determine whether it can be saved.

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