What We Can Learn From This Accident?

Post Reply
cobalter
Commander
Commander
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 2:20 pm

What We Can Learn From This Accident?

Post by cobalter » Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:54 am

http://www.sltrib.com/news/2587027-155/ ... -bear-lake

This tragic accident occurred last week on Bear Lake north of Salt Lake City. Tragic loss of life when it seemed all the safety precautions/responsibilites had been taken. Having worked in EMS for many years in the CO mountains I always look at these incidents and try to determine what if anything I would have done differently. Hard to say in retrospect as I was not there. When younger I used to read a little booklet called "Accidents in North American Mountaineering" that dissected all the fatal climbing accidents the previous year. Took those to heart. Maybe there is something in the boating world equivalent to this?

I have read a few things from several of the rescue reports a boater might consider in this accident but not to criticize these boaters in lieu of additional investigative reports and the things they did right:

The water was 53 degrees - ones ability to self rescue decreases rapidly the colder the water. Wet suits, polypro shirts under life jackets might buy some time. No cotton

Learn to read the weather where you boat - seems there may have been some brief early signs of a rapid storm buildup as noted by those who live in the area.

Consider a SPOT locator or EPIRBS. Maybe the time frame here was too short here but a consideration if rescue teams have the receiver.

They were over 3 miles from shore late in the afternoon requiring a long swim once separated from the boat.

These folks seemed to do a lot of things right and thus the survivors. Cold water hypothermia and time in the water seemed to be the killer here.

Have never owned a dedicated ski boat but maybe that was a factor in the high waves?

If the waves were 6+ feet can our Cobalt 20-23 BRs ride this out with a bow cover, walkthrough and windshield closed or other strategies? Would like to hear opinions on this as well since that is what many of us have.

I do not know the length, make or model of this boat but it overturned and did not sink. There are some photos if you search of a rescue boat with the boat in tow. Seems it might have been a typical 21-23 ft. ski boat.

Would like to hear other opinions. I usually boat in warmer waters and narrower lakes but always try to plan for the worst case scenario. I look forward to reading lessons learned from this published by a boating authority after the facts are in. I look forward to opinions from this forum as many of us probably have similar size boats.

jhnmdahl
Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Posts: 406
Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2015 5:11 pm
Location: Twin Cities, MN

Re: What We Can Learn From This Accident?

Post by jhnmdahl » Mon Jun 08, 2015 11:52 am

Most Cobalts have a significant amount of freeboard relative to competitive boats, but mine's a bowrider and I don't expect I'd last long at all if waves started coming over the bow. Only boats 20' or shorter are required to float once capsized (the rule is they have to float level, even if inverted), and most Cobalts will simply sink to the bottom like a rock.

My thoughts on the linked story are:

1. No way I'd be a few miles off shore without a radio on board. Even a cheap handheld marine radio could have saved them from a significant part of their ordeal.

2. Even in the relatively calm waters of Minnesota lakes, I check the weather before going out and keep an eye on the weather while out with the boat.

There are probably more things than this that could have been done, but these two strike me as things that I would likely have done even without the lesson of this latest accident.

John
Administrator of the www.cobaltchat.com Cobalt boats community forum

cobalter
Commander
Commander
Posts: 40
Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 2:20 pm

Re: What We Can Learn From This Accident?

Post by cobalter » Mon Jun 08, 2015 2:31 pm

Good idea about the radio. I never launch without my portable. Interesting about the non flotation of the Cobalts - guess I assumed there would be some buoyancy. Another reason to have an emergency pack ready to grab if the boat goes down. I need to think about the flotation of that gear so it can be retrieved on the water. One reason I got the bow cover - think that would buy some time on my 210 if the waves got that big.

Big Block Power
Fleet Admiral
Fleet Admiral
Posts: 1146
Joined: Sat May 07, 2016 8:05 pm
Location: Neenah,Wi

Re: What We Can Learn From This Accident?

Post by Big Block Power » Sun Jun 12, 2016 4:09 pm

Good info guys. I didn't know that was a rule for 20' and under. I thought most boats were suppose to float.learn something new every day. Im with everyone here check the weather before you go out. Storms do pop up and be ready. Our big lake we boat on is 15 miles wide by about 40 miles long but only 20 feet deep.I have seen it claim lives.It gets ugly in a hurry. In my boat I think I could ride out any storms on it. If I was out in Michigan no way in hell would I go far off shore. Those big lakes scare the delights out of me. I would want twins.
2003 Cobalt 220 8.1gxi
Neenah Wi

Post Reply