One of B.C.'s top news stories in 2006 was the sinking of the BC Ferries passenger vessel, Queen of the North. Two people lost their lives in the accident. In the aftermath of that terrible night, members of the crew were fired and Fourth Mate Karl Lilgert was sentenced to four years in prison for criminal negligence. The Captain of the Queen of the North, Colin Henthorne, reveals a first-hand account of what happened in his book The Queen of the North Disaster: The Captain's Story (Harbour 2016).

How did a ship that sailed the same course thousands of times fall victim to such an inexplicable error? Was the bridge crew fooling around? On the tenth anniversary, Captain Henthorne recalls in detail the ill-fated voyage and dispels rumours about what really happened and reveals an insider's take on a modern marine disaster.

Colin Henthorne was born in Vancouver and spent nearly all his life living and working on the water. At the age of 21 he became commander of his first vessel and continued to command ships most of his life. He sailed as master with BC Ferries from 1990 and was 52 when the Queen of the North sank. He was not on watch at the time of the ship's grounding and fought to keep his job but lost. It took him over six years to recover his career. He later became the Canadian Coast Guard Rescue Co-ordinator at the Joint Co-ordination Centre in Victoria.

Colin Henthorne was awarded the Canadian Nautical Research Society’s Keith Matthews Award for a book deserving special recognition for The Queen of the North Disaster: The Captain’s Story (Harbour Publishing, 2016). The award is given to a maritime book published the preceding year, which, in the view of the award committee, “offers an important record that would, in the future, be cited by historians.” The jury lauded Henthorne’s book for providing a comprehensive and balanced account of the marine tragedy. The winners of the Keith Matthews Awards were announced at the Canadian Nautical Research Society’s annual conference in Halifax, NS.


The Queen of the North Disaster (Harbour 2016) $24.95 978-1-55017-761-9

[BCBW 2016]


Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
The Queen of the North Disaster, The Captain's Story