Local

He jumped from a wine cruise in Richland. Now he has to pay up

The Water2Wine Cruises yacht is recently moored at the Columbia Point Marina in Richland. The business, launched by Jay Denney and David Landis in late October, features dinner cruises and charters on the Columbia River aboard the 96-foot Chrysalis.
The Water2Wine Cruises yacht is recently moored at the Columbia Point Marina in Richland. The business, launched by Jay Denney and David Landis in late October, features dinner cruises and charters on the Columbia River aboard the 96-foot Chrysalis. Tri-City Herald

A Tri-Cities man must pay a $5,000 fine for jumping off a Water2Wine yacht as the boat headed to dock in Richland.

He was a passenger on the 96-foot motor yacht Chrysalis.

He asked the captain if he could jump off into the water, but the captain said no, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a news release announcing the fine.

When the Chrysalis pulled into Columbia Point Marina, the man climbed over a railing and jumped into the water, the Coast Guard said.

He was on the back of the yacht, about 10 feet above the water, said Jay Denney, Water2Wine owner.

The man swam safely the short distance to shore.

“He’s actually pretty lucky he didn’t get sucked in. The captain was in slowdown mode, or it could have been much different,” Denney said.

The Coast Guard didn’t release the man’s name, but the Benton County Sheriff’s Office identified him as Rhett J. Caudill.

Caudill couldn’t immediately be reached Monday by the Herald.

It’s illegal to intentionally jump from a passenger vessel, as it’s considered interfering with the safe operation of the boat, the Coast Guard news release said. The fine can go as high as $33,333.

The incident happened in June. The Coast Guard issued the fine on Nov. 14 and just announced it in a news release.

After the jump, the Chrysalis crew called law enforcement.

Benton County Sheriff’s investigators interviewed witnesses and forwarded information to the Coast Guard, which handles those kinds of situations, said sheriff’s Lt. Erik Magnuson.

Caudill wasn’t arrested or criminally charged locally.

Denney said it’s the first and only time a passenger has jumped off one of the Water2Wine cruises. Doing so is dangerous not only for the jumper, but also other passengers, as it diverts the crew’s attention, he said.

“The (vessel) has to go into ‘man overboard,’” Denney said.

Water2Wine debuted in 2016. This year, it’s taken more than 9,200 people on lunch and dinner cruises and other public events.

The company also has taken about 2,400 people on private charters this year.

Sara Schilling: 509-582-1529, sschilling@tricityherald.com
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