Here’s the 40′ 1968 Monk. We’re tied up to the pier at the Hoquiam Shipyard, REALLY
Sometimes the risk isn’t worth the reward. I’m headed home.
After looking at the boat and it’s ability to make a 850 nm off shore passage I’ve decided I’m not the one to make this journey.
I feel for the owner, as he’s been trying to get this boat south for six months. He’s planning on living aboard and taking it our occasionally.
A few of the issues were: battery charging, leaking genset exhaust, questionable planks, and all those windows.
I only charged him for my out of pocket expenses.
For the first time in ten years of teaching were going to deliver a Captain’s Course (OUPV) via the web.
An introduction and intense Chart Plotting session will take place on Saturday, May 25 in Anacortes from 8am – 9pm.
The balance of the course (Navigation General, Rules and Deck Safety) will delivered via a the web.
Monday – Thursday evenings: 6-10pm: Mon, May 27 – Wed, June 12, 2013
The final exams will be proctored back in Anacortes on Saturday, June 15, 2013 from 8am – 4pm.
There will be a route to upgrade to Master and for endorsements for those who want that option the week of June 24-29, 2013
(note: There is a Coast Guard requirement that you participate in all of the sessions)
Please get back to me HERE ASAP if you’re interested in this unique opportunity.
On March 20, 2013 it happened again, this time on Gabriola Island, BC. 32 year old Krystal Anderson’s car crashed through the safety gates at the terminal and drove across the deck of the MV Quinsam and into the waters of Descanso Bay. (A list of articles related to this incident is here.)
While the coroner’s report is not yet final, that incident got BE reader and retired prosecutor John Chessell to thinking. What are the similarities and causes of such incidents? John happens to live in the San Juan Islands, and is thus, ferry dependent
Here’s his report:
These (approximately) 80 events occurred between (approximately) 1920 to the present — the three most recent were in March and April, 2013. In the majority of these events, the occupants of the vehicles died. In the most recent occurrence, 33 people died in Bangladesh when a bus fell into a river while trying to board a ferry, notwithstanding that the event occurred in daylight and there were scores of bystanders at hand who tried to help. Rescue, even when help is close at hand, is apparently difficult and frequently unsuccessful, at least according to the articles. The reasons appear to be:
1. It is seemingly very difficult to open a vehicle door against the outside water pressure until the inside of the vehicle has filled with water (at least one article commented on this specifically);
2. More modern vehicles usually have electric windows that cease to operate when the vehicle’s electrical system shorts-out in the water. In one incident (Australia, 1936) a vehicle with four occupants drove off the end of the ferry and went in the river, in water 20′ deep with a flowing current. The article mentioned that the vehicle was a touring car, with side curtains instead of windows. All the curtains were down except the driver’s. All four occupants escaped through that single opening over the driver’s door, after the vehicle had submerged and they were all under water; it was clear that they went through the opening one-at-a-time, as they were separated considerable distances by the current as they each came separately to the surface. All survived. However, there did not seem to be a great difference in the end-result of these incidents whether they happened in the 1930s, the 50s or the 60s, (when vehicles commonly had manually-operated windows) or whether they occurred in the 1990s and 2000s; in the majority of cases in any era, the occupants of the vehicle died once the vehicle entered the water; with today’s smaller vehicles, some died in water as shallow as four feet.
3. Confusion, injury and panic all play a part as the vehicle sinks; the occupants may not be in condition to open the doors once the vehicle has filled with water and goes under the surface. By this time the occupants are struggling either to breathe at all or to hold their breath.
4. Ferry landings for larger vessels are deep; depths less than 30 feet were a minority, and many ferry landings in these incidents were more than 75-to-100 feet deep. Incidents on rivers are compounded by the river current. Interestingly, most (but not all) of what I was able to find occurred in colder climates with cold to very-cold water, another compounding factor working against the victims. The search results were probably influenced by the fact that I relied on media reports in English; I tried looking at reports from Latin America, but had trouble working out the correct search terms. I did view reports from Italy, Greece, France, Scandinavia, Germany, Bangladesh and China, all of which had either been translated to English or videos had been posted on the web. In that regard, take a look HERE which occurred in 2010 — in that video, a vehicle backs off a ferry dock in China and goes into the water; it floats next to the dock and there are a great number of people running to help; there were three occupants; one died notwithstanding the great efforts to assist.
5. Once the vehicle descends to the bottom, there is no guarantee that it will come to rest right-side-up, even assuming the occupants are still able to move about and act rationally and with purpose. Take a look at this video clip shot by a news crew in Nokomis (date unk) — HERE – an unattended and unoccupied car rolls down a boat-launch ramp and into the water. Despite having all doors and windows closed, it sank straight-down nose-first in 1 minute and 23 secs, although the “window of opportunity” to escape from the vehicle was more likely around 45 to 60 seconds.
The 80 incidents seemed to fall into one or more of the following categories of cause — WHY did this event occur ? In no particular order, the causes appeared to be the following (I’ve labeled them only to more easily keep them separate):
A. Confusion and/or inattention; reversing off the end of the ferry instead of going forward, or driving down the ramp and into the water in the absence of the ferry were common here, as was failing to properly set the brake on parked vehicles;
B. Misunderstanding the communications and/or the directions of crew members;
C. Negligence by drivers (sometimes criminal negligence; drivers were sometimes prosecuted; it is a crime in most jurisdictions to kill someone in a vehicle accident if the surviving driver is at fault, even in the absence of intoxication);
D. Negligence by the ferry operators or crew (ditto as to occasional criminal negligence);
E. Ferry moving away from the dock while a vehicle was crossing the ramp either to load or unload (more common than you might think); in one case the victims were driving on a floating ramp to load onto their ferry when the ramp was hit by a second ferry approaching the landing; their vehicle was knocked into the water; one survived and one died [France, 2003]);
F. Intoxication (not commonly cited as a “cause,” but in some cases intoxication clearly led to “clumsy vehicle operation”);
G. Poor medical condition of the driver (not common);
H. Overly aggressive driving; usually involving trying to be “first” to get on the ferry when loading, or off the ferry when landing, not realizing the ferry was still approaching the landing and had not reached it;
I. Miscellaneous: Driver follows GPS into the water; children playing with gear-shift lever; car hit by another vehicle and “bumped” into the water; driver pretending to “steer” ferry dislodges chock under front wheel, then as ferry slows to approach landing car rolls forward and off ferry into water (intoxication involved here, also);
J. Suicide (again, not common but clearly the cause in six or seven of these 80 incidents).
The suicides were of two types and each type had its own common elements:
The first type was usually calm and deliberate; there was little doubt in the facts or the comments of witnesses that the driver intended to drown him or herself. These typically involved driving into the water from a ramp or dock rather than from the ferry itself; driving not particularly fast but at a speed great enough to ensure that the vehicle would land in deep water (as opposed to rolling down the ramp or off the ferry due to brake failure, for example, although many people have died in that manner also); appearing to be alert and aware but ignoring completely the efforts of nearby would-be rescuers while waiting for the car to sink; frequently smoking a “last cigarette” while all of this occurred. In one such case in England, the 30-year old mother of 2 small children lit a cigarette, then sent a text message to her boyfriend (with whom she had argued, which led to her decision to drown herself) asking for forgiveness, as the vehicle sank. In another case in the greater Seattle area, the driver had been sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing his wife in a fire; he was out-of-custody being treated for burns he suffered in the fire. He calmly sat in his vehicle smoking a cigarette while the vehicle sank, making no attempt to lower a window and not acknowledging any of the rescue attempts being mounted on shore. In a Texas incident the driver was seen to lock his doors as potential rescuers began to gather, then sit quietly until the vehicle went under. In all such cases the authorities very quickly ruled the deaths to be suicides and the media also very quickly reported them as suicides.
The second type of suicides is considerably different and again there are common elements among the reported incidents. The driver was alone in the vehicle; driving involved high speed; driving usually involved crashing through, driving around, or defeating some barrier meant to keep vehicles from going into the water at the wrong place or in the absence of the ferry; the vehicle went at a speed great enough to launch itself a considerable distance into the water; there was ambiguity or confusion in the minds of witnesses as to what was actually going on. In these cases, authorities did not come to a quick conclusion concerning the cause of the event, but upon the recovery of the body awaited the medical examiner’s report and background investigation before determining why the event had occurred. In these cases the media was also restrained, not offering any supposition about the cause until the coroner or other authorities had issued their final report.
In some incidents at first appearing to be suicides and containing some of the elements described above, suicide was either tentatively or permanently determined not to be the case, and the deaths were thought to be accidental.
There were two incidents involving high speed driving in which the drivers went the length of the ferry deck and launched the vehicle a considerable distance into the water, which were not considered to be suicides. One occurred in March, 2013 in Nova Scotia and there is speculation in the media that the cause may have been the 81-year old driver’s medical condition; he had gone “missing” from his family one or two days earlier; authorities have made no determination and are awaiting the medical examiner’s findings.
The other involved Medal-of-Honor recipient and genuine WWII Naval hero Vice-Admiral Theodore Wilkinson and his wife, occurring in February 1946. The couple was boarding the Elizabeth River Ferry in Norfolk, Virginia when the car suddenly began speeding down the deck towards the bow of the vessel. The wife later told authorities that as they approached the end of the vessel her husband opened the door, yelled “Jump!” and pushed her out of the car. When the vehicle was recovered, the Admiral’s body was found wedged under the steering wheel. Witnesses said that earlier they had observed the couple’s car parked, waiting for the ferry, when suddenly the engine began to race. They saw Admiral Wilkinson get out of the vehicle, bend down and reach onto the floor; the engine returned to normal; all believed that the accelerator was not working properly; it appeared he had been trying to do the same thing again as the vehicle sped off the end of the ferry.
Lastly, note here that bodies are frequently not recovered, particularly in rivers. In the recent Bangladesh bus incident of April 2013, divers reported that when they reached the sunken bus (the next day) there were no bodies on the bus — none. In an incident in Ireland in 2009, the body of the passenger was never found, although the driver was still prosecuted and convicted (he had raced to be first to leave the ferry, before it reached the landing) of felony manslaughter.
(John Chessell regularly provides information to BitterEnd. Thanks for this insightful look. Our next lunch is on me.)