Report finds sunken Long Island boat was structurally sound

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A preliminary report found that a 34-foot Silverton powerboat that capsized on Independence Day on New York’s Oyster Bay, killing three children, was structurally and mechanically sound.

Seventeen adults and 10 children were aboard the boat, named Kandi Won, to watch Independence Day fireworks off Long Island. The boat overturned and sank after the fireworks display.

Authorities have been investigating whether overcrowding, a mechanical problem, weather conditions or other factors played a part in the capsizing. Safety experts have said the boat was overcrowded, but the operator of the boat has blamed the tragedy on a sudden large wave.

Click here for the full report by WCBS News.

The parents of a 7-year-old girl who was killed in the accident made an emotional appeal Wednesday for mandatory training for all boaters, capacity limits and other changes during a state Senate committee hearing.

“I just want to do everything I can to prevent this from ever happening again,” Paul Gaines told reporters after the hearing. “I cannot stand the thought of this loss of my daughter’s life being in vain.”

Click here for that report from the Associated Press.

Shortly after the accident, Soundings Trade Only asked contributing writer Eric Sorensen, who is the author of “Sorensen’s Guide to Powerboats,” consults for boatbuilders, the Navy and boat owners and was the founding director of the J.D. Power and Associates Marine Practice, to discuss boat design principles, especially as they relate to seaworthiness and the physics of buoyancy and stability.

Click here for Sorensen’s perspective.


14 comments on “Report finds sunken Long Island boat was structurally sound

  1. Jillybird

    I keep my boat a few miles away from the tragedy, and fortunately, my slip affords me great views of our excellent local fireworks display so I never have to anchor out amidst a fleet of overcrowded, drunken, untrained boaters to watch the Fourth of July festivities. I found Eric Sorensen’s analysis of the reasons for the capsize to be superb, as usual. Plainly, the extreme overcrowding of the vessel directly led to the capsize as soon as the wake of another departing vessel(s) hit the boat. The captain of the vessel that night bears the ultimate responsibility because he recklessly allowed an excessive number of passengers aboard. I found it astonishing to learn, however, that the Coast Guard does not require capacity plates for recreational vessels of this size. I’m sure if these were required, the capacity limit for this vessel would have been no greater than 15. At least, the owner or captain might have been put on notice that having 27 persons aboard would be way too many. Or perhaps, another adult might have seen the plate and said “Geez, this boat is overloaded. Don’t take so many people.” While I believe in mandatory boaters’ education, a mandatory 8 hour boater safety course would not have prevented this tragedy. The capacity plate is a simple safeguard that is relatively costless and might well have tipped someone with a brain off that going out with so many aboard was a dangerous thing.

  2. Capt. Chris Foster

    This is undoubtedly a terrible tragedy and the operator of the vessel is ultimately responsible for the safety off all passengers and crew. However anyone on that overcrowded vessel bears some responsibility as to their own safety. Twenty seven people on a 34 foot cabin cruiser would feel to anyone like a seriously over crowded circumstance. We all need to take responsibility for the choices we make in life, and any adult on that boat had a serious lapse in judgement. I’m just very sorry that the children on board had to suffer the consequences of the adults’ bad decision.

  3. KB

    PLEASE use common sense. Take your cue from the # it sleeps or seats…Don’t use your boat as a stadium. There is no need to add any other signs.
    I feel for those involved, but think of the worst possibilities before your boat.

  4. martyf32

    Why does everyone try to blame it on everything accept the ones at fault. The owner and captain of the boat are purely to blame and it is that simple. I have been in the boating repair business for over twenty eight years. I can not think of any 34 foot fly bridge boat that could safely carry 27 people.You would be hard pressed to put that many people safely on a 34 foot head boat.
    There actions were just plain stupid as well as idiotic. Their stupidity resulted in the loss of human lives. Put the DAM FOOLS in prison where they belong so people can gain closure and move on with their lives.

  5. terry wood

    Hoe can you think it was anything else but overcrowding. Think about it 27 people on a flybridge boat. How stupid. You don’t need a capacity plate to see that just common sence

  6. Capt Philip Topps, AMS

    After watching the CBS and Associated Press reports, it is much more important to follow the likes of Eric Sorenson, Dave Gerr, two REAL experts, than to listen to the bottom feeder lawyers like James Mercante, or the news manakins on the tube.
    The concise and accurate reportage by the two men were in keeping with naval architecture and FACTS on stability. I did some quick review from my studies with Westlawn Institute of Marine Technology, and came up with very similar results (Dave Gerr is the director of Westlawn)
    Thankfully Dave and Eric are not seeking ratings, and do not indulge in speculation. Both are qualified experts in the marine field, with years of experience.
    The fault here is simply overcrowding. There was no possibility of an “8 Foot wake” as stated by Mercante.
    The statements by the parent of one of the passed children, Mr. Gaines are heartbreaking, and I hope he can in some way, have a positive effect on making necessary changes, vis-a-vis, better training for boaters, or stronger enforcement of the existing boating laws, as established under NASBLA and the relevant state laws.
    I personally owned a 34C Silverton for over 10 yrs, and never carried more than 8 persons on board. The boat never exhibited any poor stability or maneuvering capabilities in all that time, and very diverse weather conditions. It is all about using common sense. This “capt” did not do so.

  7. Kim

    Even if “sudden large wave” occured,doesn’t matter. It doesn’t take a “genius” to realize 27 people on a 34″ boat far exceeds it’s occupancy capacity. Sorry the captain/owner of the boat was/is (ir)responsible.

  8. Rod

    A Capacity Plate that stated the maximum number of persons that could be safely carried “MIGHT” have prevented this tragedy……..I emphasize MIGHT ,because I have seen far too many boats that DID have capacity Plates that were STILL being overloaded. COMMONSENSE would have DEFINITELY prevented this tragedy!!! EVERY so-called adult on that boat is partly responsible for the deaths of those 3 children. The Owner and operator of the vessel are the ones most responsible and should be prosecuted, however…..every person who willingly set foot on that boat has no one to blame but themselves for the resultin tragedy.
    Capacity Plates can be ignored, and often are! To give further examples of “human nature”, think about a few things… A lot of drivers go too fast on the highway, we really should require that speed limit signs be posted to tell drivers how fast a speed is safe…….OH WAIT, we already have those signs…….Boy, they sure have worked pretty good haven’t they?? Too many boat operators create excessive wakes in the harbor, Gee..we should require floating signs to tell operators about slowing down in hte harbor……. OH wait! That’s right…..we ALREADY have those signs……sure does a lot of good! Finally, since 1972 the USCG has required that ALL boats MUST carry at least as many life jackets aboard as there are people aboard, yet… the boats leaving many launch ramps, watch the dinghies leaving the average dinghy dock headed out to their motherships……..I see far too many boats leaving without ANY life jackets! Also, all states require an observer aboard any vessel towing a skier/wakeboarder/tube…….. that is so hte operator can watch where he/she is going and still have someone watching the person(s) being towed. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve nearly been run down by someone watching the skier instead of where they were piloting the boat!

  9. skipper

    It certainly appears that at least part of the reason for this accident was poor judgement on the part of the captain, not intentionally criminal. I’m not condoning what he did. He lost his own son in this accident. He may be guilty of poor judgement but it certainly isn’t something you go to jail for. If poor judgement were a criteria for going to jail, half the country would be there. This man must live the rest of his life with the knowledge that he is responsible for three dead children. That’s a heavy burden to carry for making a bad choice.
    Pointing the finger and jail will never bring these children back. Vengeance and bitterness is not a valid argument for throwing him in jail. Even if he was a free man I wouldn’t want to live in his shoes.

  10. redbw

    A capacity plate would not have prevented this. If he wasn’t smart enough to know that 27 was too many people, he wouldn’t have been smart enough to read a capacity plate. If he had read it, it would not have been enough to prompt him to think ‘gee, maybe I shouldn’t do it because the plate says it’t s too many”.

    People don’t pay attention to signs & warnings. It’s like the speed limit, we know what the speed limit is but it is regularly exceeded.

  11. Boatworker230

    Other comments have pretty much been on target……Overloaded boat, bad judgement, etc but whatever the cause more laws won’t correct the problem. Boating safety education is great but requiring the certificate for operating ALL motorized vessels might be overkill and as so many have said, “you can’t legislate good judgement”. Let’s enforce the laws we have and perhaps stiffen the penalties for obvious and avoidable stupidities like BWI, BUI and such……………

  12. David S

    Where in Oyster Bay is it 60 feet deep? When I read that, I immediately distrusted all the media reports of this horrible tragedy. How others reacted I don’t know. I also found the investigation reported that there were enough life preservers for all. This after raising and recovering recovering the vessel days after the event. Leads me to think they were so very well stowed that they stayed in place. How good for the passengers!

  13. 289cobra1

    Anyone that has any experience or common sence knows you have to load a boat properly. If you have three people in a 8 foot pram and they all sit in the bow or stern at one time the boat is going to take on water and sink. This accident could off occured sitting still or at a mooring. If you overlaod the boat or do not ballance the load especially with a fly bridge, the boat will be unstable. The captain/operator is responsible for the safty of the people on the boat. The blame falls on the captain period.

  14. Mattie

    I understand that this is a tragic accident that occurred during the 4th of July, and it should have never happened. I have a degree in naval architecture, and the problem is that the boat was over crowded. With a boat of the size, it has the ability to hold that much weight, but its stability becomes compromised with everyone on deck raising the center of gravity. The boat could have just as easily capsized on the dock as out in LIS.

    I see the marine police out on the water often, and mostly they are concerned with registration, and do not look twice when a boat is over crowded. Lack of registration has never killed anyone.

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