Not that I am in anyway defending the tourboat operator, but all vessels have an obligation to avoid collisions. Sure sailboats have the right of way over power vessels in most circumstances, but should proving your point possibly cost your life? This is something we all need to consider, especially race comittees. I have spent a considerable amount of time in Charleston on sailing and commercial vessels and there is a propensity to put the inside race courses in deep water near the shipping channels. the race course does not have to be on the tour boat's route back and forth from the fort. I also navigate on an offshore raceboat and have had plenty of starts near shippping channels with commercial traffic coming down the course. I monitor 13 and 16 VHF while aboard and knew where i would be safe on the course. I called the RC prior to the prep. and they had no idea. US Sailing has been trying to do something about this since last year, but people really just need to give themselves a reality check. A laser is much more maneuverable than a tourboat. Your competitive spirit can get you killed.
this was not an attempt to justify anything. I'm just pointing out that people don't always realize that just because you're on a sailing vessel other vessels will avoid you. The VHF comment goes to RC types and where they set courses. THEY should be monitoring 13 and 16. The article I read said the course was between the Chas. City Marina and the Fort. That's about 40 feet of water. Lasers need that much to sail right? there's plenty of water for everyone in that harbor. not everyone needs to occupy the same water at the same time. Like I said, I'm not faulting anyone. This was an accident. Maybe the tour boat operator was negligent. maybe Mr. Lambinus was negligent for getting underway w/o manueverability. I guess you've never been there......
If the Laser sailor didn't have his sail operational yet, but was out on the racecourse already, I'd suggest he must have been towed out there, and cast off the tow in a pretty precarious place.
Having raced in a lot of places with dangerous commercial and ship traffic, and now in Florida, where we set race courses near the Intercoastal, I live by the "might is right" rule for safety's sake.
Ships, and tugs with barges can't maneuver to avoid little boats. Powerboats are often going way too fast, and all too often are operated by people with more bucks than brains who (in my experience) navigate with a road map in one hand and a g & t in the other.
Still, the tour boat company and the operator should definitely be reported to the Coast Guard and I hope they throw the book at him.
Sylvia Galloway and Fran Trotman, who operated a safety boat at the regatta, witnessed the collision from a few hundred yards away. They said the tour boat did not stop at the scene after the collision, and its operator did not return calls until after returning from Fort Sumter to peninsular Charleston.
Galloway said the tour boat "came absolutely straight down the middle" of the nearly one-mile-diameter area near Castle Pinckney reserved for the weekend's races. The tour boat "never slowed down until the sailboat popped out of the back and never hailed either of us to see if the sail boater was OK," she said.
Galloway displayed copies of race permits, with restricted areas outlined, approved by the state Department of Natural Resources and the Coast Guard.
Word is this is going to be quite a battle in the court system. The sailor has lawyered up, (as he should have) and the tour boat company is owned by lawyers. The muckety mucks have their panties all in a twist over this thing. It's shaping up to be a precident setting case. Will be very interesting to follow and see the overall outcome. This could take years.
Wow, that's a scary (but unfortunatly not a surprising) story. I'll be interested to follow the court cases and see the outcome. I hope they find in favour of the sailor - it sounds as if the powerboat was majorly in the wrong.
It'd be nice if this could serve as a wake-up call to all the idiotic powerboaties out there who do stuff like this (not saying all powerboaties, just the idiotic minority).
This was a large regatta. There were three courses. The permits for the regatta stated the location of each course and each course was required to be out of the shipping channels. The Sailing Instructions stated that if any sailor got in the way of a commerical vessel and recieved 5 warning horns, they would be thrown out of the regatta.
It was 10 minutes before the first warning of the first race of the day. The sailor was waiting for the start sequence and bailing out his cockpit. The tour boat left its boarding location and, instead of going to the channel, sailed directly through the course. As it approached the laser, it changed course towards the laser doing 12-15 knots. When the sailor realized what happened, he tried to tack but seeing that would not be fast enough, he jumped overboard and swam for his life. As it was, the tour boat ran over his legs as he was swimming away and destroyed the laser. The laser was 'spit' out the back of the tour boat as people onboard screamed. Only then, did the tour boat stop for a moment, then sped onward to his destination.
The sailor was picked up by a safety boat and taken to the hospital where he was treated for cuts and bruises on the legs and arms. He was also given blood tests.