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.
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.