Stag party boat revellers rescued
Nearly two dozen people have been rescued from a sinking party boat in San Francisco Bay.
The revellers were enjoying a stag party on what is billed as the bay's only "floating wine tasting room" when the boat hit a shoal near Alcatraz Island and began sinking, officials said.
The 45ft Neptune started taking on water after the impact left a 1ft hole in the side of the boat, US Coast Guard spokesman Lieutenant (junior grade) Josh Dykman said.
The boat's captain tried to steer the stricken vessel to San Francisco's Pier 39, but the boat started having rudder issues and began to sink about 300ft from the pier.
Three Coast Guard boats took all 22 passengers and crew members off the vessel and ferried them to the pier, Lt Dykman said. San Francisco fire and police boats also responded. There were no injuries.
Matthew Rice, the party's guest of honour, said: "We were only in the boat for maybe about 20 minutes or so. We were coming around Alcatraz checking it out and all of a sudden it was, like, boom, just like a big jolt and the next thing we knew the Coast Guard boats came in and got us off."
The Neptune is a 1958 motor vessel operated by San Francisco Bay Boat Cruise. The boat is certified to carry 42 passengers, according to the company. "It was just an unfortunate event," said Melissa McDowell, who operates the cruise boat as a family-run business with her husband and adult daughter.
All three family members were on board at the time, and assisted the passengers off the boat, Ms McDowell said.
The captain of the boat is the company's only employee, she added. "Every one of our passengers were amazing. They followed instructions and were good humoured about it."
The cause of the incident is under investigation. The damaged boat was towed to Sausalito Boat Works where it will be repaired. There were no reports of pollution.