Boat warfare


Even in a state famous for it fish wars, a violent collision between three commercial-salmon fishing boats in Prince William Sound that left a crewman seriously injured in the summer of 2016 has attracted more than its share of attention.

But then most Alaska fish wars don’t deteriorate into actual boat-to-boat combat.

This one did, and it resulted in 27-year-old Kami Cabana of Girdwood, a locally well-known downnhill skier and the skipper of the F/V Chugach Pearl – being charged with felony assault with a weapon  – said weapon being the 58-foot, 81-ton Pearl. 

Since the collision, Cabana fans have argued she was somehow “bullied” into steering her purse seiner into the side of the F/V Temptation, another seiner skippered by Jason Long from Cordova. Critics of Cabana, meanwhile, think she should be doing some time behind bars for the attack that injured Temptation crewman Gerald Cunningham and could have killed him.

Cabana has yet to go to trial, and it should be remembered she is innocent until proven guilty.

Court documents early on, however, revealed there was a GoPro camera on board the Temptation when the collision occurred, and now some of that video has emerged. It does not make the case for Cabana look good and might leave some wondering why the state didn’t also charge Silver Streak skipper Jacob Wise.

In the video, the Silver Streak nudges up against the starboard, aft section of the Temptation so as to set the Pearl up for the kill. Only a split second later, the Cabana-skippered Pearl powers into the port side of the Temptation with a loud crash and the port-side exhaust stack of the boat breaks loose.

The stack takes Cunningham out as it crashes to the deck. The clip is only part of a 6-minute-long video that opens with the Temptation motoring into a calm and quiet Hidden Bay on Culross Island about 20 miles east of Whittier. The boat passes eight or 10 other seiners idling along the shorelines on either side waiting for the opening moment of the commercial pink salmon fishery.

What is ahead of the Temptation is unknown because there is no forward-looking camera. As Long motors toward the head of the bay, however, the diesel engine of the Temptation revs, a puff of dark smoke shoots from the Temptation’s smokestack,  the Temptation makes a gentle turn toward starboard, and a wake forms behind the boat.

What is happening can only be surmised, but it appears Long is trying to shoot the gap between two boats trying to control entry to the back of the bay. They become visible only as they steam into the picture at speed to collide with the Temptation.

Most of the following four minutes of video shows four or five boats floating around the stricken Temptation while fishermen yell profanity at each other and Long tries to determine how badly his vessel is damaged. The other, circling seiners make no attempt to come to the aid of the now listing Temptation.

It eventually motored out of the bay and called for a Coast Guard helicopter evacuation of Cunningham. The Temptation was so badly damaged it was out of commission for the rest of the salmon season.

51 replies »

  1. All this shows me is that the Same mentality I saw daily driving on the KGB in Wasilla applies on the waterways of Alaska.The Road/Waterway is Mine-Get the F Out of my way or die trying! You guy’s & gals can have the salmon, my life is worth more than some already irradiated fish.

  2. The bigger issue here, rather than who bumped who, is why is there is still a pink seine fishery in PWS. What is the point of artificially injecting 10s of millions of hatchery pinks into the ecosystem? These low dollar fish eat the marine life that high dollar (king, silver and red) salmon eat. So is it a contest to see how much you can decimate wild salmon runs? The pink hatchery/fishery presence in PWS should be shut down.

    And yes, I don’t like the seiners in PWS. This video proves why I and many others that boat in PWS don’t like them. They’re assholes. They have no respect for anybody or anything. The classic lowlife seiner move is to take a skiff to shore to get water from a stream or waterfall. Then once out of sight of the skipper, the low life crew members turn PWS into their private shooting park. For hours the scum of the earth will be shooting the shit out of anything and everything. Any way you look at it, seiners are an ecological nightmare for PWS. They need to be gone.

    • I have been fishing the sound for forty years and met a lot of fishermen. Some are a bit off but the majority are good people doing their best to make an honest living.

      I am guessing you are a gill netter and have been making a good living fishing the healthy and sustained runs of all salmon species that we enjoy in the Sound. Just guessing!

      Shame on you for your ugly, ignorant and unconsidered rant. I know the thrill of self righteousness can be addictive but still you owe an apology to a lot of decent people you have mischaracterized.

  3. Leave it to the courts,guy who had the boom strike him and sat up better buy a lottery ticket soon cause he is one lucky person!guy with net being set has right of way,if all three were setting at same time guy with port side showing has right of way,hope the set was worth it

    • Would be petty hard to adjust that video to show any of those boats setting their nets. As I understand it the period hadn’t started yet and they were getting to where they wanted to set.

  4. After watching this video a dozen times, I can’t see the evidence that the Silver Streak or Pearl were acting aggressively. Small wake behind the Silver Streak. Not much momentum with the Pearl as it bounces off and spins after contact with he Temptation. Looks more like the Temptation was making poor judgement and dangerously trying to slalom at full speed between slowly moving boats. And miscalculating, badly. The video seems to imply a hothead was at the controls of the Temptation and driving the boat recklessly.

    • Have you ever even seined? Lol. Luckily the state disagrees with you as Cabana is the only one being tried on a felony. Both the Silver Streak and the Pearl are clearly blockading agressively. The fact that Temptation made it thru instead of t boning the other vessels is a pretty good indicator he had room to maneuever. She hit him pretty much full throttle it’s not like she didn’t have time to throw it in reverse.

    • James: so you don’t see the sign of full reverse on the Silver Streak others have claimed here? and how, exactly, do you calculate the momentum of the Pearl or the “full speed” of the Temptation? is your contention that you believe the stern of the Temptation somehow swings into the bow of the Silver Streak while the Temptation is at the same time somehow sideslipping into the Pearl? but if it’s slidesipping into the Pearl, wouldn’t its distance from the Silver Streak be increasing no matter the turn?

      • First off, I understand that many here want to take down the Cabanas. Whatever. I don’t know who they are and I don’t care about them. But that seems to be tainting folks’ logic when it comes to interpretation this video. I’ve spent all my life in boats. This video isn’t hard to analyze. There’s a hole between boats. The Silver streak is slowly closing the hole from one side. The Pearl is slowly closing the hole from the other side. The dumbass driving the Temptation tries to shoot through the hole. Basically, it’s like the Temptation running a red light and getting hit from both sides. But in this case, the captain of the Temptation blames the ones that didn’t run the red light. Good luck to the Temptation in taking legal actions on the SS or Pearl. This video does not help the Temptation’s case.

      • Just love your analysis of video suggesting the Pearl is “slowly closing the hole from the other side.” If, in fact, your statement is true for some point in time (only other testimony can show this) it’s clearly not the case at the time of impact (as all can see except you).
        That gash on port side of Temptation is not from a boat “slowly” doing anything (analyzing not necessary as just the video shows everything).
        Like I’ve said before, who is to be believed here? James Hendrix or our lyin eyes!

      • James , If you have been on boats all your life, you must know that in a crossing situation you give way to the boat to your starboard, as such the CP should have given way to the Temptation long before getting that close, Instead they rammed it, The amount of Damage could not have been caused by a slow moving vessel. Perhaps the reason everyone is up in arms against the Cabanas is because they are just tired of there intimidation tactics. I myself have been needlessly rammed by them on two seperate occasions, it gets old.

      • actually James, the accurate analogy would be more like this: two cars are driving toward an uncontrolled intersection from opposite sides. a third car tries to drive through the empty intersection. upon seeing this, the two cars approaching from either side respond by accelerating.
        there are no traffic signals at sea.
        i don’t know the Cabanas from the Johnsons. i have no desire to take them down. Long was clearly trying to maneuver through Cabana family boats to reach the back of the bay. he has the legal right to do that. it’s a public waterway.
        obviously, given what happened, it wasn’t the smartest move on his part, but then i’m sure he didn’t think anyone was going to power up and ram him either. there is a responsibility to give way in these situations. if you’re a mariner or former mariner, you must be aware of that.

      • This isn’t complicated! If you ram the side of a boat then you have rammed the side of a boat! Not sure what the convoluted defense of the Cabanas is all about.

    • I agree with James Hendrix.
      Actually the crew member on the back deck was bracing for something to happen before it happened! There are always two sides to every story, and someone is always lying. Peace and prayers for you all, because next time you might not be so lucky, and a life could be lost. Any seasoned Fisher person can tell you that you do not play chicken on the sound, the flats or the gulf just to mention a a net full of fish worth more to you than someones life? Get over yourselves and act like adults!!

      • Yours and James Hendrix comments are laughable, He is bracing because he can see the Limit seiner Chugach Pearl coming full speed to Ram his boat. The Cabanas have a long history of this kind of activity and intimidation in PWS, I hope they throw the book at the whole Gang

  5. Wow, that got people up in arms. Needed to get out but I would like to tell my whole story up till after the civil case. There story they came up with was such a lie, my lawyer caught them in so many lies. I have never changed my story, been honest with everything. Judge me on the truth but there is a lot more story now after this civil suit that no one has heard yet. I’m more upset with Tim Cabana then Kami, he told them what to do. You got people talking, over 100 shares on West coast fisherman before it was pulled down.

    • Hope Jason’s alright! I’ve got a feeling that Tami & Tim got something coming their way, I wouldn’t worry if I was you 😉

    • Even if she was told to ram your boat (like you said Tim told her to) she could have made the right decision and not rammed your boat But I’m a Glad Gerry is okay

    • Yes, That ramming had to be deliberate. If the pearl had not t boned the Temptation, it would have rammed the rocky shore at that speed.

  6. So I’m glad everybody thinks they have it figured out. The only boat that accelerated was the temptation, you don’t see the pearl accelerating to make the strike so it’s not to hard to figure out the intent of temptation wich possible was trying to setup a collision. The silver streak was in reverse trying to back away from the situation.

    • i had a friend who took out a dock that way, Roger. he went charging in there and pulled reverse too late and whammo. i take it you know more about this crash than you’re letting on, given there’s nothing in that video to indicate the Silver Streak was pulling reverse – if it was. so fill me and everyone else in. exactly when did the Silver Streak pull reverse? and what else do you know? your observation “that you don’t see the Pearl accelerating” could be read to indicate that you did see it accelerating even though that isn’t in the video, though such an acceleration is certainly indicated. so, what else did you see? and why would anyone try “to setup a collision” this serious?

    • Bruce, I hope she never does either. It haunts me. The sounds of it make me sick. That man is the love of my daughters life, my love was running the boat, our family was on deck and in the skiff. It makes me nauseous and I want it to go away for ever. No one should suffer that kind of hate over 50k of pinks that a couple of those boats illegally shared. I wish we lived in a life for a life age, but instead we must trust our legal system and trust Justice will prevail over lies and good stories. When she watched the video I heard she giggled while my husband cried. Says a lot about character. Kami I hope you never sleep sound again, you caused pain, suffering, depression and a lose of lifestyle. I am sad for you and your family. I saw you, your Dad and brothers laugh it up in Seattle. The life you all live is over. PWS seiners will not forget, or forgive. I can only hope come judgement day, you can lie yourself out of hell.

  7. As an unbiased Aussie, as a sailor, as a fisherman I have come to this conclusion. And I come to this conclusion because the rules are pretty straight forward. Sailboats race everyday and make the rules work with no reverse gears people should know before being in charge of a boat how the rules work.
    Rule #1 Avoid collisions at all cost. All 3 boats fail!
    Rule #2 Give way to starboard
    Streak = pass (although they altered coarse so Fail)
    Temptation = Fail
    Pearl = Total fail (only defence for the pearl was they hit midships so could possibly be seen as being overtaken).
    Rule #3 Room at land.
    Temptation and Pearl both fail to make way for Streak However I don’t think this rule is applicable to motor boats so returning to overtaking indescression on both boats by Temptation.

    Appropriate action by all 3 skippers
    Streak = Maintain original coarse and go full astern on throttle to avoid grounding.
    Temptation = Maintain coarse or adjust to starboard if room allows as precaution.
    Pearl = Turn hard to port well before collision.

    So personally I think the judge got it right, streak had no position, their wrongful action prevented Temptation from taking evasive action to avoid the Pearl and the Pearl failed to avoid collision.

    It is pretty stupid though, just saying!!!

  8. Everybody will have some blame.
    See rule 2 in rules of the road.
    The USCG will assign %’s based on all info. If this vid gets admitted. It wont help Kami et all. It’s never easy when working right on the edge. But the buck stops in the captains lap. It just dosent matter who said what

  9. Everybody will have some blame.
    See rule 2 in rules of the road.
    The USCG will assign %’s based on all info. If this vid gets admitted. It’s never easy when working right on the edge. But the buck stops in the captains lap. It just dosent matter who said what

  10. Not in any way ever been on a commercial fishing vessel as a “crew member”, but have been on a Seiner vessel as a “visitor” before during fishing openers, and according to this video clip, looks to me like Temptation deliberately tried to pass between two Seiners PASSING by each other, heading forward, without considering that there might not be enough space for him to squeeze through. . Too bad the go-pro isn’t facing towards the bow of the Temptatiob in order to see if the Pearl and the Silver Steak DID in fact accelerate to cut off the Temptation DELIBERATELY as all the articles I’ve read claim as what has happened…..

    • You already conceded you haven’t actually “worked” on a seine operation. If a car is t boned who is at fault? Normally the car doing the ramming. Quit trying to defend the Cabanas. They almost killed someone over a few pink salmon. You should be ashamed of yourself

      • What if someone runs a red light and you t-bone them? Looked like the Temptation was black smoking for a gap that was to small with objects that don’t have breaks

  11. I wonder why no one is discussing WHY the Silver Streak and Pearl were blocking entrance into the innner bay to begin with?! It was because the rest of the Cabana Combine, told them to block the entrance, so that they could catch all of the fish at the head of the bay (which were mostly behind the markers and in closed waters. ) They only came out of the closed waters, after the troopers jumped out of the bushes!

    These two seiners were only acting on the instructions of the elder Cabana’s (they were famous for these tactics back in the “old School” herring days in PWS and Cook Inlet!) SO even though the younger “Bangers” were responsible for the destruction, the bottom line is that the Elder Bangers are totally complicit in this altercation, and should be charged as fellow conspirators!

    In reality, they are probably more “guilty” than the youngers, since they were only acting under instruction from their fathers, uncles etc. Kind of like hiring a “hit man”!

  12. Wow! The Cabana legacy continues through the years & consists of bullying, intimidation & arrogance…I saw this behavior personally while working for PWSAC’s Esther Island hatchery location in the early 2000’s for 3 years…

    I come from an Alaskan fishing family that has nearly 200 years (& counting) combined fishing experience by my dad & 3 brothers in Alaskan waters. I, myself, have 30 years experience in all phases of shoreside fisheries services in Alaska.

    This violent behavior from the Cabanas seems to continue through the years & generations. It’s despicable & disgusting & should NOT be tolerated.

  13. That is really irresponsible, Kami should not be running a boat. Their is no rational explanation for what she did.

  14. Just my opinion but that bit about Silver Streak setting Long’s boat up for the kill doesn’t hold much water since it takes place less than a second before Kami connects amidship. Both boats were intent on intimidating Long but only one boat does any damage IMO. Unless we are talking ski racing tenths of a second are hardly something that can figure into someone’s thinking here IMO. I’m sure Kami is wishing she could have reversed her engines prior to this collision but such is life-shoulda, coulda, woulda! Her defense could be she missed the reverse shift but who shifts to reverse while in full forward throttle??
    Love the bit about her being “bullied” into this. I suspect she was told to do what she did-question is who did the instructing. Maybe he comes forward in the trial.

    • yes and no. without the Silver Streak there pushing in the direction of the Chugach Pearl, the force of the collision is considerably less. i’m sure we could get some physicist to figure out the numbers. but the resistance of another boat with its screws turning is greater than the resistance of the water alone, and if even if its screws have stopped, two boats still double the resistance. it’s not quite the difference between stubbing your toe on a basketball or a cement block, but you get the idea.

      • It’s always possible that Silver Streak missed his mark but looking at the 05, 06, and 07 second marks on that video shows it all. Streak hit a fairly eazy blow on the stern @ .06 (perhaps by accident) and at .07 the Pearl is already aboard with exhaust stack on the deck.
        My guess is that without the Streak hitting Long the difference in damage would be less but not noticeably so but clearly this wasn’t a setting up by the Streak so the Pearl could take charge. It also looks to me like the Streak had stopped his forward momentum, indicating he had gone out of forward gear, suggesting his intent was not on sinking the Temptation. Pearl also is out of forward gear at around .08 or .09.

      • Another aspect of this video is that Temptation turned toward the Silver Streak possibly to avoid the coming on Pearl that is not visible at that point. Long is attempting to thread a needle between two boats that are both heading right at him and he was too slow. The crewman could see it all unfolding and still couldn’t avoid being hit by the exhaust stack. Shit happened fast.

    • Yankee man- couldn’t agree more

      The F/V Cuck Elder Streak in no way wanted to participate, only wanting a simple ring side starboard view as the F/V Pearl rammed the port of F/V Temptation….

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