On June 14, 2003, the small passenger vessel Taki-Tooo, a U.S. charter fishing vessel with 2 crewmen and 17 passengers on board, was en route from the marina at Garibaldi, Oregon, to the Pacific Ocean for a day of fishing. A small craft advisory was in effect for the northern Oregon and southern Washington coasts, and personnel at U.S. Coast Guard Station Tillamook Bay had activated the rough bar warning signs based on their assessments of existing hazardous conditions. At the Tillamook Bay inlet, the Taki-Tooo operator waited in the channel for an opening in the ocean swells so that he could cross the bar. After the Taki-Tooo exited the inlet and turned northward around the north jetty, a wave struck and capsized the vessel. As a result of this accident, the master and 10 passengers died; the deckhand and 7 passengers sustained minor injuries. The vessel, which had a replacement value of $180,000, was declared a total loss.
The Safety Board's investigation of this accident identified the following major safety issues:
- Decision to cross the bar
- Tillamook Bay operations
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the capsizing of the Taki-Tooo was the decision of the master to attempt to cross Tillamook Bay bar despite the hazardous sea state that existed at the time. Contributing to the severity of the accident was the failure of the Taki-Tooo master to ensure that he, the deckhand, and the passengers donned lifejackets before crossing the bar. Also contributing to the severity of the accident was the failure of the U.S. Coast Guard to enforce the regulatory requirement at 46 Code of Federal Regulations 185.508, which stipulates that vessel masters shall require passengers to wear lifejackets when transiting a hazardous bar.
As a result of this investigation, the Safety Board makes recommendations to the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Marine Charter Association, and the owners and operators of charter fishing vessels operating out of Tillamook Bay, Oregon.