Duck Boat tragedy

Discussion in 'All Things Boats & Boating' started by fallguy, Jul 20, 2018.

  1. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    It goes without saying that our thoughts amd prayers are with many lost souls and families in Missouri.

    Is there a problem with the duck design that made it lethal?

    I don't see how people can get out safely.
     
  2. JamesG123
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    Location: Columbus, GA

    JamesG123 Senior Member

    There is nothing wrong with the Duck Boats, they have carried millions of tourists around for decades and decades. What is wrong is operators who neglect maintenance on these vintage vehicles and hire the cheapest seasonal labor they can to drive them, either the indifferent or college kids with little car or boating experience.
     
  3. BlueBell
    Joined: May 2017
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    Location: Victoria BC Canada

    BlueBell Ahhhhh...

    We've had two tragic incidents here with commercially operated Duck Boats.
    In their infinite wisdom, Transport Canada decided to simply ban them from commercial use rather than address the issue causing the incidents.
     
  4. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    Can people escape during a capsize?
     
  5. BlueBell
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    BlueBell Ahhhhh...

    From my recollection of these two incidents, it was a valve issue, like one was missed on the check list, the boat took on water and by the time it was realized, it was too late. That's all I recall, it was years ago now.
     
  6. JamesG123
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    JamesG123 Senior Member

    Yes, they are like a school bus with no windows. I guess if you loaded it full of small children and the elderly, they wouldn't be able to get out. The thing is it should not have been able to capsize. They were built to come thru ocean surf onto beaches. So this is almost assuredly operator error. They would have to have done something dumb to that duck that compromised it. Too much crap on the roof or took out the flotation and/or ballast.
     
  7. JosephT
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    JosephT Senior Member

    Below is video from the last moments prior to sinking. Running the vessel parallel to the waves and lack of seaworthiness appear to be contributing factors. It's clear just prior to sinking the vessel was taking on water. Bad pumps/valves? Lack of watertight hatches? Another duck boat turned perpendicular with the waves and made it to shore. Very sad tragedy that could have been avoided.

     
  8. JamesG123
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    JamesG123 Senior Member

  9. SamSam
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    SamSam Senior Member

    [​IMG]
    They don't look all that seaworthy to me, but as said, there have been a lot of people on them. 31 feet by 8 feet with no flare or reserve buoyancy and a weight of almost 15,000 lbs just doesn't sound very seaworthy.
    I think a problem is they are not real boats and not real buses so who has jurisdiction over them is ambiguous and regulations are fuzzy. That might change. I think they will be outlawed commercially, that makes it easy.

    'Death traps': Federal officials have warned about dangers from duck boats for two decades https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/07/20/duck-boat-amphibious-vehicle-regulations/807244002/
     
  10. Ike
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    Ike Senior Member

    I am not a fan of Duck Boats. They served their purpose during wartime, but a lot of them never made it to the beach mostly due to enemy fire an some swamped in the surf. Technically there is nothing wrong with them but as JamesG123 said, they are poorly maintained and the operators are not very experienced, especially in situations like this. There was a very tragic accident here in Seattle where a duck boat veered across the centerline and hit a bus load of students. The cause.

    On the street they are a hazard to other traffic because they have limited vision forward and especially in a turn it is hard for the driver to see anyone (or car ) on the street immediately in front of them. There have been accidents here where exactly that happens. Fortunately no one has been killed that way.

    Yes they were made to go through the surf. When fully loaded they were going with the surf. When unloaded back out through the surf. But even then they avoid big surf.

    As for the NTSB they generally do a good job on these accident investigations but sometimes their recommendations don't make sense from a boating safety perspective. I can think of several instances when we (the Office Of Boating Safety) decided not to implement their recommendations because we did not agree with their conclusions. Those people should have all had on their lifejackets. In fact the kids should have already had them on before the storm hit.
     
  11. JamesG123
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    JamesG123 Senior Member

    Sadly, this will probably precipitate the effective banning of all these vehicles (either outright by government action or by insurers raising rates out of sight) and there won't be anything to replace them, so a chapter in "The American Experience" will come to a close. Future generations will have to make do with strapping goggles to their heads and virtually experiencing life. Safe but stupid. They will be used to it.

    Good news, I guess, will be that many VERY high mileage ducks will be coming up for sale for cheap shortly.
     
  12. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    My state has a boater law where kids under 10 are required to have pfd on while underway.

    Those pfd's are typically the self righting type.

    The death count is as perplexing as it is sad.

    Speculative, but narrow boats struggle in beam seas.

    I think the skipper perished. They said 'driver' in the news? The captain survived.
     
  13. fallguy
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    fallguy Senior Member

    From the video, it looks like the sides are enclosed and water started filling it up like a tin can.

    Am I wrong?
     
  14. BlueBell
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    BlueBell Ahhhhh...

    It would appear that way fallguy.

     

  15. Steve W
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    Steve W Senior Member

    An Australian man, Ben Carlin I think, circumnavigated the globe in one of these things many years ago and wrote a book about the adventure " The voyage of the half safe" or something like that.
     
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