Chesapeake Bay Boat Accident
Published on August 22nd, 2018
Yesterday, I was passenger on a 34′ fishing charter out the eastern shore MD below the bridge. We had fished all morning and by noon we headed in. It was a brand new dead rise boat, first trip out. Six passengers plus the Captain.
We were underway for about 10 minutes, and I estimate our speed was around 30 knots.
Visibility was unlimited.
Most of the passengers were hanging out enjoying the ride, and no one was really paying attention the situation on the water.
I was on a port side bench seat, looking toward the stern. Suddenly, a guy yells “WATCH OUT!!!” I spun around to look forward and all I saw was white sail through the windshield.
Then impact. We t-boned a sailboat with two guys in the cockpit. We were thrown to the deck. Now we are on top of the sailboat.
Our captain was kind of dazed, so being an experienced boater, I first told everyone to grab a life vest. We did a head count and injury check and nothing serious beyond cuts, scrapes, and bruises. I could not tell what was happening on the sailboat. Anyway, I turned on the marine radio and Mayday’d. CG answers and I give GPS coordinates. The guys in the sailboat are shaken up but ok (everyone was shaken up but no panic).
So now we are sitting up on top of the sailboat, with our stern precariously close to being swamped. I found the bilge pump switch and turned it on to “auto” but it did not appear to be working. Switch to manual mode and it started pumping water overboard. The switch set up required that you hold the switch down for the pump to work.
Now I’m at the helm holding this fricking switch down, dangerously close to swamping, and I’m thinking if we swamp, I’m going to be trapped in the cockpit with no way out. It was kind of dicey at that point.
CG arrives about 15 minutes later and transfers the sail boaters to another boat, then they start to transfer the six passengers from the charter to another boat. I have to admit that the CG did an awesome job. Once we were all safely transferred, the CG actually went back to the charter boat and retrieved our coolers!!
DNR, Marine Police, Fire Boats, Tow Boats, we had ’em all.
I was kind of surprised that only one boater offered assistance.
So, as far as I know, no serious injuries, but we were so lucky in that respect. It could have been a whole lot worse.
For the life of me, I cannot understand how this happened. Broad daylight, Captain was not drinking, etc. One guy said that he thought the sailboat changed tack.
I guess my big lesson is this: Stay far away from all other boats because you don’t know what they might do.
Sharing this story reluctantly since the Captain is a good guy, but it’s all over the news anyway. As a Captain of your vessel, be alert at all times. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you are too close to other boats. As a passenger, be a second set of eyes for the Captain. Give wide berth to other vessels.
Stuff happens fast.
I have this anxiety right now about boating, but I’m going to go down to my 27′ Sun Dancer and do some maintenance work. I’m sure I’ll get over it but I’ll not forget yesterday.