Queen of the Sea

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Queen of the Sea (#) (-1990), 65-foot commercial sports fishing boat that was wrecked on February 27, 1990 off Ben Weston Beach,about five miles south of Catalina Harbor. The vessel's owner, John Dipley of Redondo Beach, had let his crew take the boat out to go white sea bass fishing commercially. Two men, Donald Gish (40) and Michael Bowen (37), were aboard. The vessel struck the outermost rocks near the point at Ben Weston. The men were rescued by Isthmus harbormaster, Doug Oudin, and fisherman Ray Smith. Queen of the Sea was destroyed.




In the News~

March 8, 1990 [LAT]: “Fishing Craft's sinking was scare. Shipwreck: Fishermen say the accident off Catalina was the first total loss within memory among charter vessels. One minute, Don Bowen was cruising along in the 65-foot Queen of the Sea, heading for a cove where sea bass had been biting the week before. The next minute, the boat had collided with a submerged rock. With its rudder snapped off and propellers broken, waves were taking it toward the rocky western side of Santa Catalina Island. Twenty minutes later, pounding surf was reducing the boat to a mass of splinters. forcing Bowen, 37, of Bellflower, and his crewman, Don Gish, 40, of Torrance to abandon ship. They were rescued half an hour later by a Catalina harbor rescue boat that came from Avalon; Gish suffered minor abrasions. Fishermen at the 22nd Street Landing in San Pedro described the Feb. 26 accident as the first total loss within memory among the charter sportsfishing vessels that harbor there. "I can't recall one ever happening," said Roger Hess, owner of the Encore and Charisma sportfishing and dive boats. The accident was a shock to the Queen's owner, John Dipley of Carson, who was not aboard the boat the day it sank. "I have an invalid mother who needs 24-hour nursing care and now my entire income is gone," lamented Dipley, 43, in a brief dockside interview. The distraught Dipley displayed a single spoke from the wheel of the Queen which he was saving as a memento, nervously pounding it against the palm of one enormous hand. Dipley, whose wide knowledge of local waters matches his Falstaffian girth, said that a $250,000 insurance policy will not cover the $600,000 need in replacement costs. But he added gamely that he will try to start again. "The only thing I've ever done in my life is fishing," he said. As word of the Queen's demise got around the dockside, the tight knit professional fishing fraternity — a group of men with weathered faces and perpetual squints not given to expressing emotions lightly — sympathized with Dipley. "We did feel badly for John," said Hess, as he sipped a beer in the cabin of the Charisma. "We'll do what we can to get him going again." Bert Mikkelsen, owner of the Reel Hooker charter boats, said: "I hate to see John lose his boat. He is one of the better skippers here. He has quite a following." With Dipley attending to his ailing mother and unable to captain his charter boat, Bower and Gish had set out that Sunday night to fish for squid to sell as bait, and to try their luck at sea bass. The collision occurred about 6>30 a.m. as Bowen was rounding the southern tip of Catalina to the cove where sea bass had been plentiful, Bowen said at the dock. Submerged rocks that are visible at low tide as "boiling rocks" were hidden by high tide, he said. "I cam in a little close," Bowen acknowledged. After the collision, the Coast Guard received a Mayday call from the Queen at 6:42 a.m. that the boat had gone aground at Mills Landing, which is about 3-1/2 miles south of Catalina Harbor, according to Chief Petty Officer Reid Crispino. Bowen said the deck of the Queen was tilted at a 45-degree angle when he called for help. Crispino said that the crew of Catalina Harbor Rescue No. 6, which arrived alongside the Queen at 7:05, maneuvered to within 30 feet of the disintegrating vessel and that Bowen and Gish jumped in the water and swam to safety. At 9:35, a Coast Guard helicopter flew over; only the wreckage was visible. "I had the scare of my life," a shaken Bowen said hours after the mishap. "I have never been through that before and I never want to be through it again."”