Tragedy On The Hudson: Two Boaters Lose Their Lives

Boat Accident

The body of the bride-to-be, thrown overboard when the 21 foot boat she was on, slammed in to a barge, has been found in the water not far from the scene of the accident near the Tappan Zee Bridge.  The best man has not yet been found.  Boat operator, Jojo John, 35, has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and vehicular assault.  The fiance of the bride-to-be was knocked unconscious in the accident and suffered a fractured eye socket.  According to reports, the crash occurred shortly after the boat left the village of Piermont on a short trip across the river to Tarrytown.  Alcohol is being looked at as a possible cause of the crash.  If alcohol was involved, which appears to be the case, Mr John should receive the maximum penalty allowed by law.  Unfortunately, there are far too many boaters, particularly small, speed boat owners, who treat boating in the same fashion as driving a car.  They get on the boat, turn the key and drive away without any more knowledge than the average operator of an automobile.  Add alcohol to the mix and the boat becomes a deadly weapon. Therefore, the U.S. Coast Guard should be requiring much more stringent requirements for operating a vessel.  Sail boaters, or “Blow Boaters” as power boat owners like to refer to us, have no choice but to learn proper seamanship.  Mono Hulled sailboats don’t go very fast, under 10 knots, (12 mph) therefore the odds of being caught in storms are far greater.  We can’t just turn on the engine and attempt to make it back quickly to a safe retreat.  Navigation, tides, wind direction, water depth, all must be taken in to account before journeying out of the harbor.  Sail boaters, by the their very nature, are adventurers.who understand the importance of knowing, understanding and respecting the sea.  There’s a very old saying that says, “the sea did not invite you, expect from her neither sympathy, nor compassion”.  But motor boaters don’t need to know anything and often don’t understand the most basic seamanship. That is simply fact, based on my 42 years on the water. One might ask who needs to know how to use a sextant and I would respond, the captain who has an electrical failure on board. Something must be done in order to ensure boats aren’t in the hands of uneducated captains playing speed boat racer and who hold the lives of others in their hands. For the record, only an ignorant boater would be going fast enough at night to hit a barge.  It’s the worst kind off accident; it’s a negligent accident and if alcohol is involved, it only compounds the stupidity. All boaters should be calling for tighter restrictions and requirements in order to operate a vessel of any kind.  Stiffer penalties for reckless operation of a boat, including mandatory jail time, might serve as a deterrent.  But one thing is certain, no one else should ever suffer the fate of this young couple and the best man, who simply thought they were going out to enjoy a ride on the water.

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