Sunday, December 16, 2018

Powerboat Atop Sailboat


A little late in reporting this but I felt it was a good incident to report on topic of who has the right away related to sailboats and sport fishing boats when underway.

So real quick... Sailboats under sail power (only) have the right away over SPORT fishing boats whether they are fishing or not. Where some get confused is sailboats do not have the right away over commercial fishing boats when fishing (only). Such as those using gill nets, trollers, fishing boats with lines or nets out. Again this only applies to commercial fishing vessels, not sport fishing vessels no matter what they are using to fish with, or not fishing. A commercial fishing vessels that are not fishing and powering along/underway fall back into the general boating rules.

I should note that all boat operators are to avoid a collision at all costs. If neither do then both are at fault.

If you are a little confused related to boating right-away in this incident please comment below and I will explain more.

I have included some reports and conversations related to this accident. The first one is from BoatUS.com as their report was most accurate. Some reports I read are grossly inaccurate particularly related to who may have been at fault.

I must add I was surprised and glad to learn no one was injured.



Close Call: Boats Collide
By Mark Corke
BoatUS.com
Publish October 2018
Accident Date: August 17, 2018
Video: See video at end of this page!

The skipper of a 35-foot sailboat is lucky to be alive after a 37-foot charter fishing boat struck his boat at speed.

If you subscribe to any online boating forums or social media, there's a good chance you came across a startling photograph of a powerboat sitting atop a sailboat. According to reports, a J/105 sailboat was involved in a collision with fishing boat on the Chesapeake Bay on August 17, 2018.

The sailboat Levitation, with skipper Michael Andorsky, a 74-year-old retired pediatrician, and a friend, were struck by The Hunter, a charter fishing vessel with seven people aboard. Somehow, no one was seriously hurt in the collision.

Andorsky told the local newspaper, the Capital Gazette, that even when the powerboat was "way off in the distance," he could see that they were probably on a collision course. "I'm waving at the guy, yelling, and all of a sudden, his boat was sitting on top of our boat," Andorsky told the newspaper. He believes that luck played a part, and surmised that had the powerboat stuck closer to the stern of the sailboat, where he and his friend were sitting, they would have most likely been killed.

The U.S. Coast Guard has taken over the investigation from the state marine police and has not determined which boat was at fault or whether alcohol or excessive speed were factors in the collision.

Weather reports indicated about 12 knots of breeze with conditions clear with approximately 10 miles of visibility at the time of the collision.

According to statements made by Andorsky, had the Levitation not been heeling to starboard when the powerboat stuck, the sailboat could have been cut in half. After the seven people were evacuated from the fishing boat, it reportedly slid back into the water. Both boats remained afloat after the incident and were towed back to port.

This collision, one of many that happen each year, is another stark reminder that keeping a proper lookout and understanding the rules of the road are important for all boaters.

ADDITIONAL REPORTS AND UPDATES

Charter Boat Crashed atop Sailboat in Bay; Who was at the helm? The inexperienced captain or a man who has two DWI’s?

UPDATE: STEVENSVILLE, MD. – The man who may have been the operator of a charter boat that landed on top of a sailboat has two DWI convictions on his driving record in Maryland, along with other serious infractions. James Eric Clough was in the Charles County, Maryland jail serving time for DWI about the same time the Coast Guard, awarded his father, Capt. Jamie Clough a captain’s license so he could take out fishing parties and eventually plowed his new charter boat over and on top of a sailboat. Exactly who was the operator of the charter boat Hunter at the time it plowed over a sailboat and parked on top of it until removed by a salvage company, remains to be explained as the Coast Guard has yet to disclose the names of the operators of the vessels involved. James Eric Clough states in an email that he has never been a charter captain, however, captains often let their mate take the helm. Capt. Jamie Clough refused to answer questions about how the collision occurred. The Coast Guard won’t say who was the operator of the Coast Guard inspected and licensed charter boat.  Thus, questions remain about who was the operator of the charter boat perched on top of a sailboat in one of the most spectacular crashes on the Chesapeake Bay which endangered the lives of all aboard both vessels.

The owners of the charter boat state on their website that Capt. Jamie Clough is the captain of the Hunter. The Captain of a vessel is responsible for anyone operating his boat while it is underway.  According to several persons on social media, the two men are father and son.

This account was posted on the website of the owners of the sailboat: CHESAPEAKE BOATING CLUB, dated August 17, 2018.

This morning at approximately 11:30 am, a member of the Chesapeake Boating Club was under sail on one of the Club’s J/105s when they were struck by a 35’ powerboat.  The J/105 was struck amidships on the starboard side, with the powerboat coming to a stop on top of the sailboat.  Thankfully, no one was injured. Our members were operating the boat in a safe manner, on a day with clear visibility and 10-12 knots of breeze.  The J/105 crew attempted to hail the approaching boat prior to the collision, otherwise signal, and take action to avoid the collision. We would like to thank the Coast Guard and Department of Natural Resources for their rapid response to the scene.

Eyewitness of aftermath of the collision as posted on Facebook

Tim Nichols Henry Lingenfelder, we were there Lorri took the photo of the accident. We stayed to offer assistance if needed until the CG arrived. It could have been a lot worse.

The crash of the two vessels on the Chesapeake Bay, with the charterboat Hunter, under the jurisdiction of the Coast Guard, had the potential to come close to matching the Duck Boat Disaster in Branson, Missouri last month.

According to the Maryland Natural Resources Police spokeswoman Candy Thomson, the charter fishing boat, “Hunter,” with seven people on board out of Kentmoor Harbor Marina, on Kent Island at Stevensville, struck a J/105 sailboat with two people on board from the Chesapeake Boating Club of Eastport. The accident occurred around noon on Friday.

Anne Arundel Fire Dept, the Coast Guard, and NRP responded to the scene of the collision where the charterboat crashed onto the top of the sailboat and was stuck in that position. There were no serious injuries. The J/105 had to be towed.

Hunter is a brand-new 37-footer owned by Chesapeake Bay Charter Services.

Captain Jamie Clough, master of the vessel Hunter was contacted by THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY at the phone number listed on his Facebook page to book charters on Aug. 18, 2018, and asked to explain how the crash happened.

“I can’t respond to that,” said Clough. When asked if the collision was the fault of the sailboat, Clough terminated the call.

Because the crash involves a commercial vessel, Thomson said that the Coast Guard will handle the investigation and Coast Guard Petty Officer David Micallef, spokesman for District Five Public Affairs stated that is the policy of the Coast Guard to withhold the name of the operator of a vessel involved in an investigation until the probe is complete – which is not the usual practice of the Coast Guard – but in light of the Coast Guard approved Duck Boat which killed 17 people in Branson, the policy might be changing. In that case, the Coast Guard quickly identified the operator.

Merchant Mariner Credential USA from the Facebook page of Jamie Clough advertising he is a Coast Guard approved captain. His son states that he is not a charter captain while his father, who is a captain, said he couldn’t talk about why his boat landed on a sailboat.

One member of the Fast Response boat crew that arrived at the scene from Coast Guard Station Annapolis was Petty Officer 2nd Class, Michael Kline.

P.O. Kline said that he is an eleven-year veteran of the Coast Guard and has responded to three boat collisions before the crash involving the Hunter on Aug. 17, 2018.

Asked if he expected to see a far worse result than the slight injuries due to the dramatic scene of the charter boat sitting on top of the sailboat, Klein said, “I was pretty surprised.”

Klein said that no one was in the water and the engines of the charter boat were not running when the Coast Guard response boat arrived and referred any questions about other details to District Five Public Affairs.

From the website of the owner of the charter boat HUNTER, Jamie Clough listed as the Captain, First Mate No More! January 7, 2018

James Eric Clough was spent 104 days in jail for DWI in Charles County, Md. about the same time the Coast Guard awarded Capt. Jamie Clough a captain’s license. James Eric Clough states that he is not a charter captain.

Chesapeake Bay Boat Accident from Passengers of Hunter Charter Boat
Published on August 22nd, 2018

If you recall the startling sight of the powerboat sitting on top of the J/105, one of the passengers on the powerboat shared this witness account the next day on the Club Sea Ray forum:

Yesterday, I was passenger on a 34′ fishing charter out the eastern shore MD below the bridge. We had fished all morning and by noon we headed in. It was a brand new dead rise boat, first trip out. Six passengers plus the Captain.

We were underway for about 10 minutes, and I estimate our speed was around 30 knots.

Visibility was unlimited.

Most of the passengers were hanging out enjoying the ride, and no one was really paying attention the situation on the water.

I was on a port side bench seat, looking toward the stern. Suddenly, a guy yells “WATCH OUT!!!” I spun around to look forward and all I saw was white sail through the windshield.

Then impact. We t-boned a sailboat with two guys in the cockpit. We were thrown to the deck. Now we are on top of the sailboat.

Our captain was kind of dazed, so being an experienced boater, I first told everyone to grab a life vest. We did a head count and injury check and nothing serious beyond cuts, scrapes, and bruises. I could not tell what was happening on the sailboat. Anyway, I turned on the marine radio and Mayday’d. CG answers and I give GPS coordinates. The guys in the sailboat are shaken up but ok (everyone was shaken up but no panic).

So now we are sitting up on top of the sailboat, with our stern precariously close to being swamped. I found the bilge pump switch and turned it on to “auto” but it did not appear to be working. Switch to manual mode and it started pumping water overboard. The switch set up required that you hold the switch down for the pump to work.

Now I’m at the helm holding this fricking switch down, dangerously close to swamping, and I’m thinking if we swamp, I’m going to be trapped in the cockpit with no way out. It was kind of dicey at that point.

CG arrives about 15 minutes later and transfers the sail boaters to another boat, then they start to transfer the six passengers from the charter to another boat. I have to admit that the CG did an awesome job. Once we were all safely transferred, the CG actually went back to the charter boat and retrieved our coolers!!

DNR, Marine Police, Fire Boats, Tow Boats, we had ’em all.

I was kind of surprised that only one boater offered assistance.

So, as far as I know, no serious injuries, but we were so lucky in that respect. It could have been a whole lot worse.

For the life of me, I cannot understand how this happened. Broad daylight, Captain was not drinking, etc. One guy said that he thought the sailboat changed tack.

I guess my big lesson is this: Stay far away from all other boats because you don’t know what they might do.

Sharing this story reluctantly since the Captain is a good guy, but it’s all over the news anyway. As a Captain of your vessel, be alert at all times. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you are too close to other boats. As a passenger, be a second set of eyes for the Captain. Give wide berth to other vessels.

Stuff happens fast.

I have this anxiety right now about boating, but I’m going to go down to my 27′ Sun Dancer and do some maintenance work. I’m sure I’ll get over it but I’ll not forget yesterday.

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