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From the Boathouse: Boston Whaler accident a safety reminder

July 19, 2013|By Mike Whitehead

Ahoy!

The United States Coast Guard has released the 2012 recreational boating statistics that detail boating accidents and state vessel registrations. The report includes data from every state and, additionally, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The reports stated the good news that fatalities related to recreational boating numbered only 651, the lowest in years. As I wrote in my column during National Safe Boating Week, which was the week of May 16, "there were only 758 fatalities in 2011, 672 in 2010 and 736 in 2009, according to the Coast Guard's latest statistics. The National Marine Manufacturers Assn. reports that in 2011, 83 million people participated in boating."

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I continued, "If we do the math, fatalities divided by the number of participants means only 0.00091% of boating participants died in 2011. Remember, this includes anyone who died boating whether from a crash, falling down in a boat or ... {drowning] while swimming off a moored boat that was not underway." The statistics show that boating is a very safe activity, but accidents do happen.

Operator inattention, inexperience and excessive speed are three of the top five contributing factors in boating accidents in all of the reporting regions. I have stated many times in my columns that skippers need to pay attention while underway and that speed kills.

Unfortunately, it appears a couple or all of the above factors were in play last Sunday when the Orange County Sheriff's Harbor Patrol received a report at 9:22 p.m. that two boats had collided near the entrance to Newport Harbor. The collision is currently under investigation by the Harbor Patrol, so few details are available.

However, whenever two boats collide, operator inattention by one or both skippers comes to mind. Speed may have been involved, as was clearly evident in the damage sustained by the Boston Whaler when another vessel went over its forward section. When a boat is struck by another boat operating at high speed, it is not uncommon for the fast boat to ride up and over the boat being hit, especially if the fast boat has a conventional, raked or spoon bow.

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