Starting the New Year with a Bang
Getting cold in Kemah with more artic weather on the way, so with my 4 year old grandson, and my wife, we left* at dawn and then, just after entering the Intra coastal I got slammed by a tow.
Brief synopsis, I was just moving a little faster than an east bound tow, so I called him and asked if I could come past him on the 2. He OK'd and then with a differential of only 0.5 mph I crept by him. There was an oncoming light boat so I favoured the tow I was passing ( probably a liitle too close as events transpired). I heard someone calling my tow telling him he was getting thin and all of a sudden he accelerated and turned to port, went up my starboard side then when I started calling he slowed down and came back down the side. The scariest thing was watching the bow of the lead barge knock off my courtesy flagpole which I have fastened to the forward stanchion, and NOT being able to turn away to port.* He stopped and I got down into the bilges to check for water but that was ok. Damage consirted of some crushing and scraping of the outside edge of the europa bridge, a 4" X 4'' oak midship bitt punched out, and 2 folded stanchions. My grandson was upset 'cos the impact scattered all his dominoes onto the salon floor.
The coasties visited, did a safety inspection (my first) and wrote up the accident and we proceeded east to Taylors Outfall.
Lessons learned -
Careful with differential speed in tight channels.
15 feet ain't enough clearance
tows with empty barges can move faster than a snake
Tows with empty barges can easily lose sight of you when you get to the third barge.
Once you get pinned up against the side of a barge the only thing you can do is not get too far ahead and get under that bow - you can't turn away (or at least I couldn't)
In an argument between a bottle and a rock, the bottle loses EVERY time.