Fishermen survive sinking of boat off San Juan Island

SAN JUAN ISLAND, Wash. – Six fishermen survived the sinking of their purse seiner a half-mile off the southwest coast of San Juan Island Aug. 28.

Five of the fishermen are Swinomish: John Cayou, Charles Chevalier, Ken Edwards, Nick Nash, and Bernadette Stone. One fisherman, Adam Sam, is Upper Skagit.

The Anna J had just taken on about 1,500 pounds of pink salmon when a stay line broke and the boom swung out to the starboard side, causing the boat to list in rough seas and take on water. The Anna J sold 42,000 pounds of pink salmon earlier in the day.

The fishermen were rescued by a nearby fishing boat and a tender. They were taken to waiting helicopters by the U.S. Coast Guard and the San Juan County sheriff’s boat Guardian.

Chevalier, the skipper, nearly drowned and was taken to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where he was expected to recover. Nash was treated at St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham for a concussion sustained when some rigging hit him on the head. The others were uninjured.

Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at rmwalker@rockisland.com.