Caught On Camera – Boater Crashes Into Washington State Ferry

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 176
December 5, 2016

A passenger aboard a Washington State Ferry captured video of the moment a motor boat named “Nap Tyme” collided with the WSF ferry Chetzemoka near Vashon Island on Sunday.

Wasthington State Ferries confirmed the incident on Twitter on Sunday, writing: “Private boat hit ferry on Pt Defiance/Talequah rte. No injuries, both vessels OK. We’re back in service, running 30 min late.”

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-2-23-52-pmThe video of the collision was posted to Youtube on Monday.

It’s not clear what exactly the boater was doing beforehand. 

Editor’s Note:

The title of an earlier version of this post contained the words “clueless boater” we made this statement for two reasons.

  1. Colregs Rule5 – There is no indication that  the boat has a lookout of any kind. 
  2. Colregs Rule 13 – It appeared to us that at the start of the video the boat was more than 22.5 abaft the beam and traveling faster than the ferry making this an overtaking situation.

That said, because we can’t determine the exact relative angles of the two vessels and because we can’t be certain that the boat doesn’t have a lookout (the windows are blacked-out), we’ll refrain from calling anyone clueless until more details are known.  

Founder’s Note:

An earlier version of this post contained a poll asking who was at fault…. the boat or the ferry. Legally the answer to that question is option 3: both…. and, if the coast guard investigates this incident they will likely find:

  • The recreational boat in violation of many rules starting with COLREGS Rule 5 & 6.
  • The Ferry in violation of many rules starting with COLREGS Rule 6.

That said, gCaptain is not a regulatory body and it is not our job find fault. Nor is it our job to interpret the law. So what is our responsibility to the news? It is our job and responsibility to present the facts and, only when needed, provide some expert perspective on those facts. 

So I removed the poll and any suggestion that the ferry captain was at fault. Why?

The Long Answer:

I believe the video presents the facts as we currently know them…. so here is my perspective as a USCG licensed Master Unlimited and the founder of gCaptain: the master of this ferry could have backed down on his engines immediately upon sounding the danger signal.  But for reasons that include hindsight bias and the fact that I was not aboard either vessel… I choose the word “could” have notshould” have! What does this mean? It means that while legally at fault the it is my opinion that master of this ferry did not act outside his responsibilities as ship master (i.e. he did not act irresponsibly).  

I also want to clarify the rules as they pertain to this specific scenario…. while both vessels are in violation of various rules and there is no evidence proving that the boat had no lookout…. the facts do make clear that the boat did not have an effective lookout. Turning to the Colregs:

COLREGS, Rule 1 – Both Vessel must follow the colregs

COLREGS Rule 2- Both Master’s must comply with the colregs

COLREGS Rule 3 – Definitions

COLREGS Rule 4 – Visibility

All the above rules are the foundation for what follows:

COLREGS Rule 5 *which, ignoring the ground rules, is really RULE1* – Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out…

COLREGS Rule 6-41, COLREGS Annexes, Interpretative Rules, and other associated Navigation Regulations, Vessel Traffic Requiremets, DHS Security Rues, etc… 

So because I do not believe the ferry captain acted irresponsibly and we do not have any facts pointing to his culpability  beyond rule 6 – but do have facts proving the boat captain violated rule 5 – I have removed the poll and any suggestion that the ferry captain is guilty in this case.

The Short Answer 

I have removed the poll and any suggestion that the ferry captain is guilty in this case because, while both vessel are legally at fault for breaking various rules and regulations, we do know:

  1. The ferry did have a proper lookout (they sounded the danger signal)
  2. The boat did not have a proper lookout (they did not respond  to visual nor audio warnings)
  3. Colregs Rule 5 takes precedent over any other rules the vessels may or may not have violated.

In short you can argue that the boat captain is at fault or that both captains are at fault… but I believe it is wrong for gCaptain to point fingers at the ferry captain. 

The Very Short Answer

Despite what any rules do or don’t say…  don’t pilot your boat from the shitter.


John Konrad, CEO

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