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Old 07-22-2018, 08:56 AM   #41
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I think the opposite. About anything other than what they did, may have produced a better outcome.

Driving into wind and seas is the hardest thing you can ask your boat to do.
When it starts taking on water, that's a sign that what you are doing is not working.
It's time to do something else.
Turning the boat to beam seas falling into the wave troughs, broaching might have caused it to capsize too or at least flood sooner.

The other boat that made it, the video shows they also had a tough time getting in.
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Old 07-22-2018, 09:31 AM   #42
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Turning the boat to beam seas falling into the wave troughs, broaching might have caused it to capsize too or at least flood sooner.

The other boat that made it, the video shows they also had a tough time getting in.
Yep. So?
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Old 07-22-2018, 09:43 AM   #43
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Emergency action hopefully stops or reverses the severity of the situation.

The one. DUCK looked like it tried to maneuver for an alternative while the other didn't seem to try anything.

Would love to know why....
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Old 07-22-2018, 11:32 AM   #44
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It goes without saying that this operator will not be operating this time next year. I wonder if the lawsuits will wait until the NTSB report. Probably not.
But, IMO, the general public should do at least their share of risk mitigation as well. After all, they have the same smart phones with WX forecasting as the operators.
I turned around a SW airlines 737 as it was taxiing last year. Back to the gate it went. It had a open eng cowl latch that I did not like. i'm sure some folks onboard didn't like the idea of that because of timing. Tough..

Onto this vilified captain. Obviously, his "emergency procedure" was "head back to the ramp". No doubt even fixated on it. GET IT BACK TO THE RAMP, GET IT BACK TO THE RAMP.. You are not going to get a Capt Sully on a water taxi. You can bet there was no emergency procedures in place and practiced. Is that the Capt fault or the company? In these kind of situations, if there is no practiced emergency procedures, then real life follows. an automatic response to a once in a lifetime event cannot automatically happen. Humans will exist in a world going down the list of "shock, denial, etc".
My point: the Captain will be the pointy end of the event, but is far from the one who needs the remedial modification and punishment.
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Old 07-22-2018, 12:08 PM   #45
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The reason one has a license is for the government to hold someone accountable in events like this. So many missing details.
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Old 07-22-2018, 01:24 PM   #46
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It goes without saying that this operator will not be operating this time next year. I wonder if the lawsuits will wait until the NTSB report. Probably not.
But, IMO, the general public should do at least their share of risk mitigation as well. After all, they have the same smart phones with WX forecasting as the operators.
I turned around a SW airlines 737 as it was taxiing last year. Back to the gate it went. It had a open eng cowl latch that I did not like. i'm sure some folks onboard didn't like the idea of that because of timing. Tough..

Onto this vilified captain. Obviously, his "emergency procedure" was "head back to the ramp". No doubt even fixated on it. GET IT BACK TO THE RAMP, GET IT BACK TO THE RAMP.. You are not going to get a Capt Sully on a water taxi. You can bet there was no emergency procedures in place and practiced. Is that the Capt fault or the company? In these kind of situations, if there is no practiced emergency procedures, then real life follows. an automatic response to a once in a lifetime event cannot automatically happen. Humans will exist in a world going down the list of "shock, denial, etc".
My point: the Captain will be the pointy end of the event, but is far from the one who needs the remedial modification and punishment.
Not sure of the USCG licensing requirement for these amphibs but.....overall...

I disagree, a beginning boater cannot react to many situations...due to experience and knoeledge.....

....but as one progresses up the ladder of qualifications, the expectation of handling complex emergencies goes up.

Also the expectation to have procedures if the company doesn't.
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Old 07-22-2018, 01:55 PM   #47
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They might have been better going with the wind and landing on the island that they usually go around. They were only about 250 yards away from it at the start of that video
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Old 07-22-2018, 02:19 PM   #48
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Running downwind may have been a better choice. At least they would not have had the open scoop front end to the waves. Running aground would have been better than sinking.
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Old 07-22-2018, 02:35 PM   #49
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Duck tour boats have an atrocious safety record. Duck boats linked to more than 40 deaths since 1999

Further they are for the most part crewed by seasonal employees as a summer job. I don't expect that those "captains" have any in depth training, very much experience or have spent much time sailing under an experienced captain.

The Seattle Ride the Ducks web site has this on their employment info page: (yes, I'm quoting Seattle not Branson. I'm not able to load the Branson site. I think it is the same parent company.)
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.... Once you’re hired, you’ll complete a rigorous training program through which you’ll obtain both a United States Coast Guard Master’s license and a Washington State Commercial Driver’s license. However, to qualify for the program, we require that you have a significant amount of boating experience. Each applicant must be able to document at least one hundred twenty (120) total days of boating experience over their lifetime with at least forty-five (45) of those days in the last three (3) years. Documentation can be in the form of a USCG Sea Service form (available from the USCG here), a letter from the boat owner, or a letter from a former employer.....
120 days in a life time! 45 days in 3 yrs, that works out to 15 days / year. And this qualifies an employee as a captain!?!?!

Thinking about the boats I can't imagine they are truly sea worthy. It's a large open hull with very little freeboard. Once the water comes over the side decks there isn't a pump that could fit in the boat that would effectively de-water the boat.

Of course the captain will shoulder much of the blame. However the management and ownership of the company will not get off lightly either. Clearly it's time for a change in the duck boat tour industry.
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Old 07-22-2018, 02:38 PM   #50
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It just says 120 to get hired, then a rigorous training program to obtain a USCG Masters license which is a tad harder to get than nothing but just the beginning of a career.
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Old 07-22-2018, 02:55 PM   #51
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It just says 120 to get hired, then a rigorous training program to obtain a USCG Masters license which is a tad harder to get than nothing but just the beginning of a career.
Yes it is just the beginning and that's my point. These captains do not have the experience to handle what they faced that day on Table Rock Lake. They needed and deserved more training and support from management.

However I will pick a minor bone with you. Read the employment quote and my post again.
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...as well as 120 days total, 45 days in the last 3 yrs....
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Old 07-22-2018, 03:01 PM   #52
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This tragedy made me wonder, what happens when 70 to 80 mph winds and high waves are pushing on your boat that can only go at most 8 or 9 mph like many trawler boats?
Won't you be completely at the mercy of wind and waves?

It seems there was nothing they could do to save themselves once in that situation, what is going to happen happens.
Except a trawler boat is designed only for use on the water and doesn't have to make the compromises necessary to operate on land. It generally has much higher freeboard, a bow designed to deflect the waves, can be closed up to prevent water entry, etc. The ride may not be that comfortable, but it would not be a particularly trying event. I've had waves coming over the bow of my C-Dory and it is not a big deal.

If I was in a trawler of similar size as the duck boat (~30 ft) I would have stood off shore with the bow into the wind. A 70 or 80 knot wind is not going to move that sort of boat at 70 or 80 knots. Even if pushed backwards, it would still be fine. Wind outflows from thunderstorms that are that intense don't last all that long. The storm either dissipates or moves away.

The only advantage of a duck boat in that situation is if you did end up getting pushed to a shore, you could drive out vs. run aground.

P.S. I seems unusual to me that a duck boat operator would have you on the payroll while you went for your CG Master's license and CDL. I would expect that they would expect new hires to already have these as a condition for hiring. These days almost all places the require some sort of operator qualification or licensing expect you to have it when you start work (e.g. pilots, doctors, lawyers, crane operators, truck drivers, engineers). Only in certain industry segments where there is an extreme shortage of qualified candidates do companies pay for employee licensing. Heck, I couldn't even get my company to pay for me to get a forklift operators certificate which took less than 3 hours and cost ~$60.
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Old 07-22-2018, 03:06 PM   #53
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Warning: post contains drama

Sad, sad day indeed, for those in peril on the sea.

Somewhere in the USCG regs, even if they do not directly apply for some technicality, is guidance for due diligence by the operators that should have saved these souls. I remember something about safety orientations, safety drills, the like. These people got a "Hollywood, make believe, e-ticket" version of boat safety.

I had a USCG Master's License in a past life, long since expired. I don't recall much about it but I did log some safety drills and made sure people knew where floatation devices were. If someone went overboard the crew knew to throw everything over that would float. They knew if they went out on the back deck at night without floatation and a wave got them, it was goodbye.

My pure speculation is that those jobs don't pay enough to hire responsible people who pay their own bills. I would guess barely enough to get a kid out of their parent's basement for a few hours a day. There are a lot of scary jobs filled the same way.

One of the confounding contradictions in our lives is the apathy toward preventable death in general compared with the rage and hostility toward an unusual incident such as this. Within hours of this incident as many people were killed on the roadways, as many by medical errors and as many by drug overdoses.

I am sorry for all of those losses.
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Old 07-22-2018, 03:55 PM   #54
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A bit of clarification as to captains qualifications.

A 100 Ton Near Coastal requires 720 days.

However,

A 100 Ton Inland only requires 360 days.

However,

A DUKW doesn't require either. It requires only a Limited Master which only requires:

1. 120 days service in the operation of the type of vessel specified on the
requested endorsement;
2. Recency per the OCMI approval
3. Safe Boating course completed within 5 years before date of application;
4. Pass a limited examination.

Must evaluate in accordance with OCMI approval – Example 360 days
required for Master 50 GRT Inland reduced to 180 days by the OCMI. The
MMC will have the OCMI specific approval such as to specific company,
vessel type (DUKW), and/or body of water (Lake Arkansas) etc.

Don't confuse the operator of a Duck boat on Table Rock Lake at all with a 100 Ton Captain you might see on the coast. You can spend 120 days on a Duck boat and get a license without completing captain's training or any of the other prerequisites for a "Captain's License".

These are duck tour drivers and if the Limited Master is all they have, they are not qualified or licensed to operate any other boat any where else. Perhaps they don't need to be. I can see they don't need the education that one gets in a Captain's License course or the experience gained over the requirement of 6 times the training. I think most anyone on this forum would have made better decisions and that has nothing to do with licensing. I do resent though when the Duck Tour operator refers to them as having 100 Ton Captain's Licenses and completely ignores the nature of those licenses.
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Old 07-22-2018, 03:56 PM   #55
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I think this will come down to 5 key questions.


1. Did the main office know about the warning and when. Do they do their due dilligence in weather monitoring.

2. What was the Captain told, and when.

3. In the past, have duck captains been encouraged to follow orders, or make decisions.

4. Was the boat mechanically sound, ( propulsion, drainage and pumps.)

5. What kind of emergency training and practice is required of the captains.


I don't think the design of these vehicles is as bad as people are saying. There are millions of people each year going on these tours all over the country without incident. The few incidents that have received so much publicity have mostly been human error. ( I don't know much about the Arkansas incident...I believe that was similar to this one )

These boats are fine for the conditions they normally encounter. 70mph winds and 5 foot seas are not what these tour boats were designed for, or expected to deal with. Your basic 12 foot aluminum boat is a staple of kids and fishermen everywhere. It would not have survived those conditions. Should all those be banned too ?

The canopy and side windows have been identified as problems. The Branson boats had mechanisms where the captain could release those to allow easier egress.

There was an onboard video camera that has been recovered and sent to Washington. That may provide a little clarity, plus the captain survived, but he may be lawyering up and not saying much. The surviving duck boat captain has been told not to say anything until the investigation is over.
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Old 07-22-2018, 04:33 PM   #56
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Running downwind may have been a better choice. At least they would not have had the open scoop front end to the waves. Running aground would have been better than sinking.
The mental state of the Captain would be far more interesting to understand than the recorder.

For the previous 40 years, all the ducks made it back to the ramp.
If I take some unauthorized detour, I might tear up someones lawn, or worse, get a trespassing charge. Either way, I'm fired.

So, its off to the ramp. MUST MAKE IT TO THE RAMP. repeating in the brain, constantly... until the end, when it now becomes "I DON'T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING". It's the way brains work.
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Old 07-22-2018, 04:36 PM   #57
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Yes it is just the beginning and that's my point. These captains do not have the experience to handle what they faced that day on Table Rock Lake. They needed and deserved more training and support from management.

However I will pick a minor bone with you. Read the employment quote and my post again.
I did.....we have no idea how many days of anything before they are turned loose....

Just how many needed to be accepted for employment, not active captaining.
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Old 07-22-2018, 04:49 PM   #58
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The mental state of the Captain would be far more interesting to understand than the recorder.

For the previous 40 years, all the ducks made it back to the ramp.
If I take some unauthorized detour, I might tear up someones lawn, or worse, get a trespassing charge. Either way, I'm fired.

So, its off to the ramp. MUST MAKE IT TO THE RAMP. repeating in the brain, constantly... until the end, when it now becomes "I DON'T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING". It's the way brains work.
The untrained, inexperienced brain....one usually overtaken by fear and in pani c mode.

The trained, experienced brain is flashing through possible alternatives to the current scenario that isn't working.

Unfortunately the conditions for that captain Ina duck boat may just have been too much.

Heck, not sure anyone here has duck boat experience.... and without it ....coming up with alternatives quick enough to save the day would be pretty amazing.

But the million dollar question is.....did that operator have enough experience that could have provided alternatives to save the day?
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Old 07-22-2018, 05:26 PM   #59
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Of course, hindsight is 20-20, but I think many of us would have issued the PFD’s and prepared to abandon ship. I hope that I would’ve done exactly this, especially if I had someone driving the boat.
Not to say that this would have been easy.
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Old 07-22-2018, 05:28 PM   #60
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The captain had 16 years of experience, but many people said that was the worst weather they had ever seen on the lake, so its unlikely he's dealt with those conditions before.
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