Baltimore Water Taxi Concern
First of all a disclaimer... I apologise if this is not the proper topic for this forum.
I have not seen any discussion on any of the boating forums with regards to the capsizing of the water taxi in Baltimore harbor which resulted in a number of deaths. My concern involves the type of seacraft being used and whether there is a serious lack of judgement on the company's part to be operating such a vehicle especially in the conditions that lead to the capsizing. I am also concerned on the Harbor's ability to insure those who operate such companies offering public transportation could be also lacking in establishing proper controls for safety.
Now please understand that I have been trying to search for more detailed information concerning this accident. So I apologise again if my assumptions are wrong.
The pontoon boat that I have seen in the pictures just doesn't strike me as something that I would consider very seaworthy. I envision these types of seacraft more suitable to small lakes. There also seemed to be a lot of people for that size of craft (25+ for 11m length). The profile view that I saw had the flooring of the pontoons on the very top which would place the center of gravity of the boat way above the waterline. Add to that the problem that the major ballast (people) are not fixed, one can imagine if the craft tilted very much the weight would have shifted to the lower side and aid in overturning the craft.
What's this to me? I'm not an alarmist or one ready to blame someone else for things that may happen to me. It's sad that people died. It's also sad that many of these people probably never thought twice on whether there was any danger in what they were doing. It's scary to me since I worry whether I would have had the forsight to be concerned or would I have assumed that there were proper checks and balances in place to prevent these safety lapses. Am I wrong?
The Coast Guard (or a third party) certified the boat for the use.
Certification includes stability analysis for the weather conditons envisioned.
Without the actual analysis in hand it is difficult to say that any other analysis would have provided a more robust design.
In any case hindsite is always better.
Being from Baltimore maybe I can shed some light. The inner Harbor is virtually completely protected waters. There is a small, maybe 500 Ft opening to the Patapsco river which eventually leads into the Chesapeake Bay. That particular Taxi company has a pickup point just outside the opening at Ft McHenry just inside the Patapsco. http://www.mapquest.com/maps/map.adp...submit=Get+Map The Taxi has a canvas cover over the whole boat to protect riders from the weather. I believe the final analysis claims that a gust grabbed the canvas like a sail overturning the vessel. The exact type of craft operate safely every summer out in the much rougher Chesapeake BUT most have a partial canvas. The Taxi has resumed service but no longer ventures out to Ft McHenry.
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