Fishing vessel that sank in Brookings is finally pulled back up

The waterborne, or rather water-logged, circus that has enthralled the Brookings area for the last week has finally moved from center ring in the middle of the Chetco River channel.

Floated by inflated air bags and pulled by another boat, the Jo Marie was moved to a barge slip around Monday evening. Since then, workers have begun the task of pulling the boat onto dry land to dismantle the vessel and remove the remaining fuel.

Hundreds of people watched the work from the side of the river, taking advantage of the great weather over the weekend. The Sporthaven beach parking lot filled to watch the three-ring-like festivities.

The Jo Marie had been stuck in the middle of the channel since it sank Jan. 20, when large waves hurtled the boat into the jetty.

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued the four fishermen on board, after launching its 47-foot motor lifeboat. Capt. Ron Pincombe's dog, which was on board when the Jo Marie sank, drowned. A prior Triplicate article erroneously reported that the dog survived.

Divers from Northwest Marine Services installed air bags around the vessel to raise it so that it could be maneuvered from the channel and removed from the water.

The crews arrived from Coos Bay with a crane last Thursday. Costs of the operation, unknown at this point, will be paid by insurance, officials said. The boat is owned by Pacific Seafood.

On Saturday and again on Sunday, the bags were dislodged and had to be reattached. More bags were installed and Monday morning, crews attempted to move the boat. However, the Jo Marie did not budge, and the tugboat instead ripped the engine, shaft, transmission and propeller from the fishing vessel.

Later in the day, when the water had risen, the Jo Marie finally was dislodged and was brought near the barge slip. Leaked fuel could be seen in the river Monday, but Port Manager Ted Fitzgerald said the pollution had been boomed off near the barge slip.

Coast Guard marine investigators from Coast Guard Sector Columbia River, in Warrenton, Ore., are still investigating the incident.