Cause of San Diego capsize unclear


The captain of a boat that capsized Sunday in San Diego Bay, where a father and son drowned, said a gust of wind into the jib sail caused the vessel to overturn, but the builder says the boat was overloaded.

The president of the Heart of Sailing Foundation, which offers short sailing trips for people with disabilities, told the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper that George Saidah, founder of the non-profit and the boat's operator, told him that he followed all safety precautions before launching the Nessie with nine passengers.

That included filling the water tanks on the bottom of the boat, which act as ballast for the 26-foot MacGregor sailboat and allow it to right itself if it begins to fall to one side, said John Shean, a Bloomington, Ind., lawyer and president of the non-profit's board.

But Roger MacGregor, founder of the MacGregor Yacht Corp., which made the Nessie, said there's no question the boat was overloaded on Sunday.

"Ten on that boat is just too many," he told the newspaper. "If I saw that boat in the bay with 10 people on it, I would be concerned."

According to the MacGregor Yacht website, the boat is virtually unsinkable if it has a full ballast tank and a lowered keel.

MacGregor said it is up to the boat operator to determine how many people can safely fit on the boat, but he noted that during testing of the vessel, when the deck was loaded with 800 to 900 pounds, the boat was able to right itself.

Sgt. Brian Jensen of the San Diego Harbor Police said the investigation into the accident could take a few weeks, the newspaper reported.

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