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Sinking of Crab Boat at Tillamook Bar May Be Due to Jetty Miscalculation

At 1:30 am on February 7, 2006, the Coast Guard received a VHF call. Two red flares were spotted near Tillamook Bay, Oregon. A Jayhawk helicopter and two 47-foot motor lifeboats were dispatched to the area.

Debris was found identifying the vessel as the Catherine M., a 45-foot crabber whose homeport was Warrenton, Oregon. The body of Jeff King, 30, of Garibaldi, was also found on a nearby beach by a local rescue team, along with a life raft and three survival suits. The bodies of Trona Griffin 30, of Garibaldi, Oregon, and Craig Larson, 31, of Hammond, Oregon, washed ashore in the days following.

The last contact from the crew came the night before the incident, when Craig Larson’s wife spoke to him by phone. She was told the boat was returning to port with around 1,200 pounds of crab.

The last contact from the crew came the night before the incident, when Craig Larson’s wife spoke to him by phone. She was told the boat was returning to port with around 1,200 pounds of crab.

As there were no survivors, specifics of the accident may never be known. Coast Guard officials reported good sea conditions with a bright moon, light winds, and good visibility. Despite the conditions, the “bar” area where the accident occurred, is known to be a tricky area due to several rivers meeting the ocean here. Catherine M. approached the bar at low tide, making the conditions ripe for dangerous breakers. The seas in this area were estimated at 10-12 feet, with swells at 14-16 feet. Another fisherman reported waiting out the conditions at the bar for six hours before crossing, still with difficulty. It was believed that the Catherine M. either capsized or struck the jetty while entering the bay, maybe after experiencing engine problems.

Sources: US Coast Guard, Headlight Herald, The Oregonian & The Columbian