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Meet the Seattle Water Taxi captain who stopped a runaway barge

The West Seattle Water Taxi was instrumental in preventing damage to Pier 66.

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Captain Dan Krehbiel has 30 years of marine experience.

Photo by SEAtoday Staff

Sometimes a crazy day at the office is just unexpected paperwork. Other times it’s needing to use the West Seattle Water Taxi you’re captaining to try to save a runaway barge.

Meet Captain Dan Krehbiel — he had a crazy day at work.

On Thursday, Nov. 2, 38-mph gusts ripped across Seattle. As Krehbiel disembarked from the West Seattle Water Taxi dock, he and his team noticed a barge in Elliott Bay outside its designated area.

As the crew passed, they noted that there were no tugboats moving the boat and the freight with stacked containers was accelerating toward Seattle. The water taxi was the best option to help low down or divert the boat.

Springing into action

The crew informed the Coast Guard of their plans to intercept the barge and told the 11 passengers on board to take their seats.

“I think I heard someone from downstairs say ‘Cool,’”, said Krehbiel.

After bouncing off once, the ferry connected and made its push. But, the barge then turned and faced the pier at a perpendicular angle.

“It was kind of jarring, the image of this barge coming out, spinning, pointing downwind,,” Krehbiel said.

That was the most memorable moment of the ordeal, second to the initial impact. “It was the hardest I’ve ever hit anything.”

Safe and Sound

The crew was unable to get the boat secured from the rear, so the barge inevitably collided with the pier, but with minimal damage. The ferry also had only cosmetic damage. Tugboats arrived shortly after to secure the barge.

Once the boat docked, the ferry was scheduled for a crew change, so he had plenty of curious ears to tell the tale to.

“As it was, we were only 15 or 20 minutes late completing our trip,” Krehbiel said.

But once Krehbiel made it to his car, he called his wife first.

“Guess what — I had a day. You may want to turn on the news.”