Pacific Grizzly owner Leonard Ellis believes the sinking of his vessel August 4, 2015 as it was moored in the Bella Coola Harbour was suspicious. Photo courtesy of BC Crime Stoppers

Owner of Pacific Grizzly offers cash reward to solve suspicious sinking

Bella Coola owner puts up $25,000 reward for information

Out more than $200,000 in expenses, a Bella Coola man is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for sinking his boat, the Pacific Grizzly, in 2015.

Leonard Ellis believes the sinking of his vessel on Aug. 4 as it was moored in the Bella Coola Harbour was suspicious, he stated in an e-mail to Black Press Media.

“Physical evidence viewed by witnesses upon salvage proves beyond any doubt the vessel’s watertight components were indeed compromised and physically sabotaged.”

The vessel’s sinking resulted in an estimated 1,000 litres of diesel spilling into the water. It also ruined the Pacific Grizzly.

“The vessel had to be torn apart by an excavator onsite in the harbour, loaded on a barge and hauled to the landfill.”

Ellis said more than $50,000 was spent on Pacific Grizzly at the shipyard in 2010 to ensure all caulking was in good shape below waterline and that the vessel did not leak at all below waterline.

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“Superficial paint on top decks suffered cosmetically from freezing winters but all machinery, bilge pumps, batteries and high water alarms were certainly in good working order,” said Ellis. “The hull structure with regard to floating capabilities was sound and copper paint and zincs were in very good condition.”

Transport Canada documentation states the Pacific Grizzly was built in 1936. It was a 20.51-metre fishing boat constructed of wood built by Boeing Aircraft in Vancouver.

According the John MacFarlane’s book, The Nauticapoedia List of British Columbia’s Floating Heritage, vol 1, in her early years the Pacific Grizzly was owned by British Columbia Packers Ltd. and was a seine boat. In 1942 during the Second World War she was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy Fishermen’s Reserve as the H.M.C.S. Van Isle to patrol the coastline. In 1944 she went back to her owners, the British Columbia Packers Ltd and Ellis purchased the vessel in 2001.

Ellis said he had invested over $150,000 into the boat for upgrades and maintenance and it cost him over $50,000 for cleanup in the harbour. He also lost the August, September prime guiding season in 2015 for Bella Coola Grizzly Tours.

The vessel was not insured. A reward of $25,000 is being offered by Ellis for information provided to RCMP leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect/suspects responsible for the sabotage of the MV Pacific Grizzly in Bella Coola harbour.

If anyone has information regarding the loss, they are encouraged to contact the Bella Coola RCMP at (250) 799-5363 or anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

With files from Caitlin Thompson, Black Media Press.

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