Seaplane capsizes in Lake Union

An otherwise uneventful landing of a small seaplane ended poorly after the craft started listing dramatically to one side shortly after landing this past Saturday in Lake Union. The MV KAYLA was tied up in front of MOHAI picking up passengers for a planned weekend in Poulsbo when radio calls for an overturned seaplane were heard on channel 16.

Within minutes a Police boat was seen speeding toward the scene and arrived shortly thereafter. Minutes after their arrival it was announced that the two passengers had been safely rescued. Water temperature in Lake Union, at the time of the incident, were approximately 52F degrees.

There was a fair bit of radio traffic between Seattle Police and the US Coast Guard, which monitors radio traffic on channel 16. Beside a concern for safety, officials were also interested in knowing how much fuel was aboard and whether it had been contained.

While we weren’t able (or required) to render aid, we did manage to cruise nearby after the incident and captured some photos which later appeared on KING5 News.

Photo Feb 28, 1 20 22 PM (2) Photo Feb 28, 1 21 14 PM Photo Feb 28, 1 21 50 PM (1) Photo Feb 28, 1 22 03 PM

There’s always lots of seaplane traffic in Lake Union, though, most of the traffic is from Kenmore Air which has an outstanding safety record. We believe that the accident we were near involved a private, non-commercial craft.


Would you be prepared to haul a person out of the lake and into your boat, if needed? Have you practiced MOB (man overboard) rescue scenarios? With boating season fast (though not fast enough) approaching it’s worth studying up on water rescue and survival techniques. I know we need to on board MV KAYLA. We also need to obtain a 5:1 lifting tackle.

Imagine you or your spouse having to lift a 200+ lb adult out of the water? Now add in some weight for water soaked clothing. And, consider that they might be unconscious! Plan. Train. Practice. Repeat. Here are some links to posts other’s have done on rescuing people in the water as well as a link to a 5:1 ratio lifting tackle harness.

On a related note, the Seattle Sail & Power Squadron organizes a Sea Skills event every Spring and will be demonstrating MOB rescue techniques this year. If you’ve never heard of the Sail & Power Squadron, it’s a great organization to join and become involved with. Beside hosting social events and boating rendezvous, they offer classes in a wide variety of topics including navigation, weather, engine maintenance, seamanship, and more. This year’s Sea Skills event, taking place at Shilshole Marina, will be held May 9th through May 10th.