Gold dredge sinks in Nome’s outer harbor
A 28-foot aluminum gold dredge sank in Nome’s outer harbor after the anchor line broke Thursday in high winds.
The vessel was anchored 100 feet off the causeway when the anchor line snapped and the wind pushed it onto the rocks. According to Harbormaster Lucas Stotts, the dredge “drifted into the rocks between the Middle and City dock where it sank in place and sat on the bottom until the owner could mobilize a response crew for the vessel recovery.”
Stotts stated that port staff responded right away when it was discovered but very little fuel or debris was in the area and recoverable. “The USCG, ADEC and NRC are all contacted when there is a pollution event or a marine causality (causality does not have to be loss of life, only enough dollar value to property) and all were notified by myself and the owner,” wrote Stotts in an email to the Nugget.
Winds were around 50 knots with higher gusts at the time when the dredge broke loose.
“I set it on anchor and went back to Anchorage and the anchor line broke,” said owner Jeffrey Orzechowski. He was waiting for the ice in the inner harbor to clear out so he could move the dredge out of the water for the winter. But the wind had other ideas.
“Tomorrow morning hopefully the viz will be a little better so I’m going to go down,” said Orzechowski on Sunday afternoon. He’d been diving around the sunken vessel and found the water to be too cloudy to work effectively. “We’ve got the crane so we’re going to just pick it straight up and put it on my trailer, assess the damage and go from there.”
On Monday morning Orzechowski and several friends were on the causeway and organized to raise the sunken craft.
By 6 p.m. the dredge was raised partway out of the water and they were trying to get the larger of two cranes fired up. The smaller one raised the dredge partway and was stalled.
About ten gallons of gas for the outboard was onboard the dredge when it sank but there was no fuel leak according to the owner. In addition to the Yamaha outboard there is a diesel compressor motor onboard.