Monday, May 23, 2011

Dead in the Water... Again, Sigh!

Sigh. Another overloaded sailboat capsizes.
And more death results.

A 22-foot sailboat, overloaded with ten people at night, none of them wearing life preservers, capsized in the Chesapeake Bay during a "late night cruise". One died, one was missing until his body was recovered several days later.

It gets worse: the dead men and their friends were more or less NASA rocket scientists!

San Diego CBS8 article

WTOP FM update on second body

The first dead man "was an associate research engineer for the National Institute of Aerospace, which does research in conjunction with NASA's Langley Research Center." The other nine people on the boat were six graduate students working at the NASA research center and three NASA contractors. The second dead man was one of the grad students, a "University of Maryland graduate research assistant working for the National Institute of Aerospace, which does research work in conjunction with NASA." The second dead man and his roommate apparently were the boat's owners.

What has become of NASA rocket scientists? Guess they aren't what they used to be. Was it smart for ten people to board a small sailboat at night (thought to be a Venture-MacGregor 22), none of them wearing life preservers, and then capsize?

Enough beating up on foolish rocket scientists. While rocket scientists making abysmally stupid decisions is far too tempting a target to ignore, the suffering of the survivors and families is very real and terrible and deserves sympathy and prayer. This is a horrific tragedy, and made worse because it follows hard on the heels of another terrible capsizing of an overloaded MacGregor 26 sailboat earlier this spring in San Diego. In that tragedy, an overloaded sailboat belong to the midwestern Heart of Sailing charity capsized, resulting in two deaths. No life preservers were on those victims, and boat appeared to have not had its water ballast tanks filled and appeared to be grossly out of trim and unbalanced.

An advisory group to the US Coast Guard has recommended expanding the number of people who are required to wear life preservers. Although many sailors resent being told what to do, if the stupidity and avoidable carnage continues there will surely be a reaction in the form of more rules and less individual choice.

For what it's worth, here's the profile picture of the surviving co-owner of the boat, who was aboard for the tragic night:
Looks like these guys know how to have a killer good time. In 2007, the Virginia Legislature passed a law requiring motorboat operators (including operators of most sailboats) under the age of 40 to pass a boating safety class. Unfortunately, this requirement won't be phased in until July 1, 2013 -- two years too late for these bright young men. (Eventually the requirement will be phased in for all Virginia boaters, with very few exceptions.)

" of the unanswered questions is whether the boat was large enough to safely have 10 people on board". Duh. It certainly wasn't safe for rocket scientists... overloading a small boat... cruising late at night... in 57-degree water... without anyone wearing life jackets. The moral of the story is that no one is too smart to get by with ignoring basic safety. Where's your life preserver?


At 5:29 AM, May 24, 2011, Blogger Tillerman said...

My life preserver is in the car so I will never forget to take it with me when I go sailing.

At 11:11 AM, May 24, 2011, Blogger bonnie said...

Hanging on the bow of my kayak.


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