Bad judgment, bad boating
It wasn’t waves, wind nor water that were to blame for the senseless loss of life on a Missouri lake when a, “Duck”, sank during a squall. It was first and foremost incredibly bad judgment followed by a grotesque lack of competent seamanship.
For those not familiar, although a Duck is supremely awkward looking, sort of the “Warthog”, of watercraft, it is extremely seaworthy. It is well powered and was designed for rough water landings on beaches even when transporting dozens of heavily armed troops.
After watching the video of this tragedy carefully it becomes painfully clear that the Duck was performing well and actually fighting to stay afloat even as its crew drove it hard into powerful waves and howling winds. With each wave this vessel was forced to crash into, it was taking on water, well in excess of what its bilge pumps could handle.
It was down by the bow and sinking steadily. With each gallon she took on the bow went further down making each subsequent wave more punishing. As any sea captain knows, you have to keep your vessel trimmed.
The first and most costly failure: That the Duck ever left its dock. The storm was already coming in strongly enough that several passengers actually did disembark and requested the return of their money. Certainly storm warnings had long since been posted.
Secondly: The skipper was obviously not a seaman but also not smart. How was it that thirty lives had been entrusted to him?
Thirdly: the helmsman need not have driven directly into the oncoming seas, at least not at full throttle, especially in a bow down profile. He could have backed the throttle and headed slightly to his port side. The shore in that direction was clearly reachable and this craft is designed for exactly such landings.
In the very end, even as the Duck completely foundered, the engine was still producing thrust. This vessel wanted to get its passengers back to safety, the crew sadly wouldn’t let it. Now numerous innocent men, women and children are dead.
Mike La Rose