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MBTA ferry from Hingham hits rough waters, toppling passengers

The 8:20 a.m. commuter ferry from Hingham to Rowes Wharf listed heavily to its port side twice during the daily trip Monday morning, causing passengers and chairs to topple over like dominoes, according to passengers.

A Boston Globe reporter who was on board the ferry reported that the second time it happened, the vessel — a ferry named the Massachusetts — tilted so far to one side that the boat seemed perilously close to capsizing. Commuters on the upper deck were sprawled on the floor in shock. No one appeared to be injured, but passengers were visibly shaken by the time they arrived in Boston.


“So choppy on the water today that a whole section of seats (and the people in them) fell over,” another passenger named Megan Griffin tweeted. “Guess I’m lucky I didn’t get a seat today. Might kiss the ground when I get off the boat. And still, I would take this over the Red Line any day.”

After she got off the ferry, she said she was “still shaking.”

“The second time it listed . . . I thought we were going to capsize and I’ve never been so scared,” she tweeted.

As the boat departed from Hingham, the captain noted there were four-foot swells and warned passengers to brace themselves for a rocky ride. At the end of the trip, the captain apologized over the intercom and said anyone who had been injured should speak to a crew member. He also said the MBTA would not be running that particular boat for at least two days due to the high winds from the storm. That ferry typically also runs at 4 p.m. during the evening commute.

In an e-mail, spokesman Joseph Pesaturo was asked whether the T had been told that the 8:20 a.m ferry from Hingham had nearly capsized.


“No, that didn’t happen,’’ he wrote. “The vessel Massachusetts hit a wave. There was no damage nor injuries. The vessel continued its trip into Boston, where passengers departed.”

In a subsequent e-mail, Pesaturo maintained that the Massachusetts was not imperiled by water conditions in Boston Harbor Monday morning. “As the captain made a maneuver to bring the bow of the Massachusetts into the wind, the vessel listed but was never at risk of capsizing,’’ he wrote.

However, he did change course on what ships will be deployed by Boston Harbor Cruises, the operator of the ferry service, during current weather conditions. The Massachusetts has been taken out of service, he wrote.

“The Massachusetts has been replaced by another vessel. Ferry service has not been interrupted,’’ he wrote. “The Massachusetts (a monohull) has been replaced by a catamaran which offers increased stability in choppy conditions.”

He said 222 passengers were on board the Massachusetts at the time. According to MBTA records, the Massachusetts was built in 1988 and has a capacity of 347. Pesaturo said the Massachusetts is owned and operated by Massachusetts Bay Lines under subcontract to Boston Harbor Cruises “for six scheduled departures daily.”

Due to predictions of extremely poor visibility in Boston Harbor later Monday evening, the last scheduled MBTA ferry to Hingham/Hull was set to depart from Long Wharf at 6:05 p.m, the T said.

While the remainder of the evening’s ferry service to Hingham/Hull was to be suspended, ferry service between Boston and Charlestown was expected to be unaffected, officials said.


The MBTA said all regularly scheduled service is expected to resume Tuesday morning.

This isn’t the first time the Massachusetts has run into trouble, according to previous Globe reports.

In July 2010, the Massachusetts was hosting a whale-watching tour when it hit rocks and began taking on water. Three years before that, on July 10, 2007, the Globe reported that the Massachusetts had collided with another commuter ferry while traveling through heavy fog. And in 2006, the engine room of the Massachusetts caught fire, according to the Globe.

John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.