Taking bad advice from the GPS unit in his car, a man drove into an Alaskan small-boat harbour on Thursday morning just after departing a ferry nearby.

The man, who was not named, was apparently relocating to Alaska from the southern US and arrived on a ferry about 6.30am (12.30am Friday EST) said Dave Schofield, director of Whittier’s Department of Public Safety.

The man drove off the ferry in his Subaru car loaded with belongings, two dogs and a cat, Schofield said.

He didn’t make it far.

About 120 metres from the ferry dock, a GPS unit in the man’s car told him to take a hard right turn, Schofield said.

“The GPS apparently misrouted him, and he drove down the ramp for launching boats into the water,” Schofield said.

“He was unfamiliar with the area is the only answer I have for you.”

The car made it all the way down the launch, where boaters back their vessels down a ramp into the water.

A short distance from the boat launch, Lazy Otter cafe manager Elizabeth Dernbach was opening up shop, hoping for coffee-hunting customers getting off the ferry.

“Somebody came in and told me to call 911. I looked over and there was a car in the water, in the harbour, and it was sinking,” Dernbach said.

The car was soon fully submerged, Dernbach said.

Another man just off the ferry jumped in the water, smashed open a window with a hammer or some other tool and helped the driver out.

Two dogs escaped as well, she said.

“I couldn’t see the top of the car at all. It was under water a couple feet, at least, and as the tide went down, you still couldn’t see the car,” Dernbach said.

Schofield said a cat inside a pet carrier drowned.

When Schofield arrived, the man and his dogs were out of the water.

With a diver’s help, a local towing company pulled the car out of the water, Schofield said.

No charges were filed.

“It’s unusual,” he said. “It was a first for us.”

Dernbach said the early morning darkness and rain could have affected the driver’s ability to see the roadway.

“I still don’t really know how he drove in there,” she said.