Tragic youth sailing accident

fastyacht

Super Anarchist
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I ran a coach boat with a 70 HP Johnson, at age 21. I had a 17 year old high school assistant running some of the time. This was before the invention of boating safety certificates but I had the USYRU coaching training for a head instructor. My assistant did not. As I remember it, I taught her everything about powerboat operation.
We did not have prop guards. We had two boats at our disposal but did not always use both. Sometimes we were together (it was generally preferable).

Engine always turned off when approaching kids in the water. We had leashes. Even all those decades back.
Sometimes I had half a dozen or maybe a few more in the Whaler while towing a string of dinghies. Kids were to sit. But somebody could have stood up and fallen out. We did have the full railings but they weren't all that high (you remember the type--the classic 17 footish whaler with the wood console with fwd leaning windscreeen).  Looking back, that was on the slightly sketchy side.

The article gives very little actual detail. I never trust news at this stage. Too many nuances they are apt to miss. But it will come out.

I haven't been able to get this out of my head all day. It really really shook me. I suppose having been in that particular task (capsize drills) and generally (driving a boat around kids in dinghies) it is too close to not feel it viscerally. Others have already said the same thoughts. I really do feel for every one in that club, in that program, the parents and grandparents and siblings etc of the lost child. And the instructor, not knowing how this happened, I have no idea what went wrong. Just all around awful. My thoughts are with all.

 
199
10
Sydney
This is terrible,  the family of the sailor but also for the coach. I think the coach will live with the internal guilt for as long as the family grieves. 

People and organisations need to take note of yet another bad accident and do something about their local circumstances, both by things like guards and also training and SOP. Having said that, being hit by a metal or plastic guard  or the the shaft of the engine could be equally deadly.

Scouting in NSW requires props guards on Scout owned boats (after similar incidents) but I worry about family owned ones which turn up to events. At our boats shed we also don't let people sit on the buoyancy tubes on the Zodiacs anymore and they also need to be holding onto a rope or fitting at all times, due to a similar incident years ago, fortunately not fatal. At the investigation Zodiac apparently came out and said that people shouldn't be sitting on the buoyancy tubes, despite what all their advertising shows, and basically blamed the driver.

 

dacapo

Super Anarchist
13,812
1,676
NY
with that said...I am the director and head instructor of my club's Jr. program.....

today will be a day of safety drills without the use of outboards

today I will hug each of my sailors and give them high fives just for being there...

today I will read the newspaper article to my instructors and let that sink in....

today is a sad day 

SAFETY........FUN............LEARNING

 

Steam Flyer

Sophisticated Yet Humble
45,326
10,150
Eastern NC
SailBlueH2O said:
with that said...I am the director and head instructor of my club's Jr. program.....

today will be a day of safety drills without the use of outboards

today I will hug each of my sailors and give them high fives just for being there...

today I will read the newspaper article to my instructors and let that sink in....

today is a sad day 

SAFETY........FUN............LEARNING
Other than prop guards and retelling this story to the instructors and young sailors each class everywhere ....practically speaking I don't think much more needs to be done. Instructor/safety boat does not go in gear with anyone standing. Sad...I really feel those involved....
It is a sad day, this incident is a nightmare.

One of the points I have tried to get across to those involved with our youth/junior programs: sailing is very safe, by statistics it is the safest youth sport by far. But the stakes are extremely high, an accident is just as likely to be fatal as it is to be a broken something.

What can we do to prevent this? Some have said the training is a joke. Sadly I have to agree that in -some- cases the training is a joke. Who is going to fix that? We have to ourselves. If I heard somebody describing our program's training as a joke, I'd make sure that person either got a new perspective or got put far away from our kids. Not meaning that in any harsh way, just the facts. 

The first step is solid awareness that this kind of deadly tragedy is a very real possibility. In some circumstances, it is more of a probability than a possibility. And as instructors, we have to deal with that and make certain that it doesn't happen. You cannot do so if you believe in luck, if you believe you are young & bulletproof, if you think it's a joke.

Heartfelt condolences to the family.

FB- Doug

 

Hwyl

Anarchist
694
7
Bowriding (kid sitting on bow, feet dangling in water) has been endemic in every club I've worked in.Banning it has made me Mr. Unpopular on numerous occasions

There was a very serious accident involving this practice in Pequot YC, some decades ago.

There is only one result if the bowrider should slip off, I doubt there's anyone who could kill an engine quickly enough, 15 mph is 22 feet per second, so you have 1/2 a second to kill the engine.

Of course, I don;t know this was the cause of he tragedy, but putting a kid in a Zodiac after a practice capsize, does not sound like normal procedure.

The amazingly insipid US Sailing, should talk about this in their Level 1 training.

I'm devastated, thoughts, to all concerned.

 

wpbeardsley

Member
375
5
This is awful, awful news.  I grew up sailing on the Sound and went to regattas at Centerport and have friends who coached there.  This was avoidable but it's also very easy to see how it happened...almost every former sailing instructor has been in a situation where this could have happened to one of their kids (plus parents who drive motorboats with kids in them).  And most junior sailing instructors are < 21 and this is frequently their first job and they are being supervised by someone who is also < 21, and everyone just crosses their fingers that people get good training and are responsible.  

Seems like the take home lessons based on these facts are:

1. If you're able to outfit motorboats that are involved in junior sailing instruction with prop guards, strongly recommend that programs do so (something like - http://www.propguard.net/how.html - I'm sure there are others out there, I don't own any stock in these guys or know how good the product is, just found a site with a design that works)
 
2. Everyone in a motorboat must be seated INSIDE the motorboat (not on a rail, inner tube or standing in any capacity) before the boat goes into gear.  Easy rule to break since the inner tubes are the most comfortable place to sit and there's usually not a lot of seating inside a RIB.  Get some cushions for the floor of the RIB and have kids kneeling on the cushions with butts inside the boat before the boat is in gear.  
 
3. Motorboats should never be accelerated violently or suddenly from a standing position - always go super slow initially in case passengers aren't settled in.  
 
It's been 20 years since I've taken it, but at least at that time, US Sailing Level I training classes had a basic motorboat skills test.  I was concerned that I wouldn't pass it since I didn't have a lot of experience driving a motorboat growing up, so I took a US Sailing Motorboat Safety Skills class led by the legendary and late Walter Wheeler III.  That helped a lot from a training and confidence standpoint.  
 

ctdriver

Anarchist
501
9
with that said...I am the director and head instructor of my club's Jr. program.....

today will be a day of safety drills without the use of outboards

today I will hug each of my sailors and give them high fives just for being there...

today I will read the newspaper article to my instructors and let that sink in....

today is a sad day 

SAFETY........FUN............LEARNING
Ditto at my program

 

DarthSailor

Super Anarchist
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366
I saw this happen to a kid at a fuel dock when I was 12 ( bicentennial summer), the boat reversed just as he fell into the water over the stern. I still have bad dreams about them pulling the kid onto the dock and stuffing towels into his stomach. I don't think I got back out on the water for a month that summer.

I as a instructor for my clubs junior program for 4 years and this could have happened then as well. I was a little more paranoid about the engine/prop around the kids due to what I saw but there were many times where I would see something going awry and just floor the chase boat without thinking to get to the problem. We didn't let kids in the chase boat as a general rule but it's just dumb luck that something bad didn't happen in my classes(both as a student and instructor.

I hate that this happened some of my best memories are of being in or teaching kids sailing classes. Also sailing in junior regattas at Centerport and Northport across the sound behind the four smokestacks from my club. 

Condolences and prayers for the family of the young sailor who died. There are no words.  

 

frostbit

Anarchist
with that said...I am the director and head instructor of my club's Jr. program.....

today will be a day of safety drills without the use of outboards

today I will hug each of my sailors and give them high fives just for being there...

today I will read the newspaper article to my instructors and let that sink in....

today is a sad day 

SAFETY........FUN............LEARNING
Well said. 

 

kent_island_sailor

Super Anarchist
27,659
5,511
Kent Island!
Report say the young man was sitting on the tube and when the boat accelerated he fell over and his pfd entangled in the prop causing massive chest trauma.

This could have happened anywhere to anyone. Unless kids are inside the gunwhale facing inboard with asses on seats it will eventually happen. These are mostly young teenagers. 

Bowriding with legs dangling overboard is already illegal. 
These are not passengers for hire, USCG Six Pack has nothing to do with it and is irrelevant.
Everyone operating a motor vessel in NYS is required to have a safe boating certificate with a few ridiculous exceptions
https://parks.ny.gov/recreation/boating/documents/FaqBoatingSafetyCertificates.pdf

Boat manufacturer lobbies will always fight against more strict licensing and mandatory training. As someone said US Sailing Level One training is very limited.  There are additional, optional courses available

U./S.Sailing Prerequisite - 3) Experience operating a safety boatThis course is evaluative: Powerboat skills are tested, not taught, during this course.

http://www.uspowerboating.com/courses/sph/


 





Safe Powerboat Handling














Course Description


This 16-hour hands-on, on-the-water course is for anyone who wants to learn how to safely operate a small motorboat and improve their boathandling skills. No previous experience is required! The US Coast Guard and the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) have approved this course and an increasing number of states have recognized it as meeting their requirements for a State Boating Education Certificate.

These national and state approvals call for the course to include a total of six to eight hours of classroom sessions covering required education topics.

US Sailing Membership is not required to participate in a Safe Powerboat Handling course.











 



On-the-Water Sessions


  • Engine & electrical systems
  • Starting procedures
  • Docking
  • Leaving & returning to a slip
  • Close-quarters maneuvers
  • Anchoring
  • Steering a range
  • Proceeding to a destination
  • Person in Water rescue

Classroom Sessions


  • Safety, preparation & weather
  • Maneuvering concepts
  • Registration & capacities
  • Equipment requirements
  • Preparation & fueling procedures
  • Navigation rules of the road
  • Aids to navigation
  • Environment regulations
 Some good will come out of this monstrous tragedy but the cost in pain and suffering on this one  is immense.     
 
My son did this powerboat course. It was pretty good and I would suggest any club have their instructors take it.

 

shaggy

Super Anarchist
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1,074
Co
Wow...  Condolences...  I taught for yrs and frankly learned the powerboat stuff as I went, not by us sailing.  I got reeeeealll good at driving a pb only because I did it with the race program, (we did not have a PB in the family) on a 50ish hp rib, on a regular basis, for years in close quarters, and frankly, if the kid was sitting on the side, how in the fuck did he even get near the prop??  Without more info we cannot surmise the the events that lead to the situation, but unless he was on the bow, and the boat was going fast, or he was sitting on the stern quarter and just slid in, how did this happen??  If the LJ was not buckled or old or whatever, something sucked him in.. IMHO (and this is not gonna go over well) the instructor is ether really really libel for the issue by letting the kid do something completely against the rules (LJ not buckled, sitting on the tube feet over the side, backwards, standing behind driver (he obviously was the oldest and the most competent)(we all have)) heck, the 12yo probably swam to the boat and pulled himself over the stern and said "OK lets go i am good" without the instructor looking back... or it was really a freak accident that could not have been avoided by following procedures...   Tragic tragic situation and I really feel for the instructor, family and the program.  (getting choked up remembering all the times I did all of the above with the older kiddo buddies that I trusted in the boat..... (Shudder)).....  

 
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This is a terrible tragedy, obviously avoidable. 

The issue that may come to light in all this is that most sailing instructors AT ALL LEVELS are not licensed by the Coast Guard.  If you are in a commercial arrangement and carrying passengers, you must have a USCG license. Why does the launch driver need one but not the sailing instructor??  Both are carrying passengers and are getting paid to do the work. 

I feel that all YC's are negligent on this topic. A powerboat license enables you to operate the craft but not to carry passengers for hire. As soon as you put kids in the boat with the instructor, you have passengers for hire. 
We are taught at the USS certification classes, very specifically, not to put our sailors in the coach boat unless absolutely necessary (ie injury). I think place of employment may have said as much too. Many of us still took kids in the boats underway for one reason or another though. 

 
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Lake Shark

Member
324
0
midwest
Jumping to conclusions and saying a prop guard would have saved the kid is irresponsible at this point, a prop guard does not make being run over by a motorboat instantly non fatal. There are many factors that could be involved that we simply don't know based on early reporting. 

With that said I have been coaching for 10 years now and worked with many different programs all over the US. USS level 1 does go over motorboat safety and there is a skills test that must be passed, One of the instructor trainers in my current region is notorious for failing trainees on their motorboat skills and all the other IT's I have met I have held in very high regard. 

 

NaptimeAgain

Super Anarchist
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393
Annapolis MD
I am really a powerboater who doesn't sail much anymore.  Used to teach adult sailing and have towed a lot of Sunfish etc.  Props and swimmers are a hazard in the teaching scenario but similar issues with pulling skiers or tubers.  Both realistically require powering to get the tow rope to the person in the water.  In a perfect world you would shut off the motors and drift/paddle to the person in the water.  But that also diminishes your control of the boat - no steering either.  Most people I know just put the motors in neutral.  I literally  cannot recall ever seeing a prop guard on any boat.  If you know there are swimmers in the water it helps to have someone(s) keeping them in sight, a bit like an MOB situation.

Someone falling out of a boat poses different problems, surprise, no time to react, etc.  Condolences to all involved.

 

MR.CLEAN

Moderator
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Not here
Jumping to conclusions and saying a prop guard would have saved the kid is irresponsible at this point, a prop guard does not make being run over by a motorboat instantly non fatal. There are many factors that could be involved that we simply don't know based on early reporting. 

With that said I have been coaching for 10 years now and worked with many different programs all over the US. USS level 1 does go over motorboat safety and there is a skills test that must be passed, One of the instructor trainers in my current region is notorious for failing trainees on their motorboat skills and all the other IT's I have met I have held in very high regard. 
I was told by a club member that the life jacket straps got caught by the prop, which is why the chest injuries were there.  Yes it can happen even with a guard, but preventing wraps like that is the one thing they are really good for.

 

NaptimeAgain

Super Anarchist
1,707
393
Annapolis MD
Anyone know what kind of PFD? Have wrapped enough fishing line in props to see how easy that can be to do. Long trailing strap ends of a big PFD on a small size sailor? Harder to imagine with snug straps and tucked ends.

 

duncan (the other one)

Super Anarchist
5,508
525
Siderney
Jumping to conclusions and saying a prop guard would have saved the kid is irresponsible at this point, a prop guard does not make being run over by a motorboat instantly non fatal. There are many factors that could be involved that we simply don't know based on early reporting. 

With that said I have been coaching for 10 years now and worked with many different programs all over the US. USS level 1 does go over motorboat safety and there is a skills test that must be passed, One of the instructor trainers in my current region is notorious for failing trainees on their motorboat skills and all the other IT's I have met I have held in very high regard. 
I agree - which is why I said 'at face value'. 

Either way - prop guards should be a given on rescue craft.

 




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