Thursday, 5 July 2012

To be a Captain

Recently I have been reading a lot of news, now that I'm hooked back up to the internet. One thing I am a bit of a fan of is opinions and debate. When I read articles about dumb decisions made by "Captains", a term I use in the loosest sense, I get agitated.

When you buy a boat, you are not a Captain, but when you take that boat out on the water, technically you are. Jennie and I kid about being Co-Captains, I get to make navigation decisions and she gets to do the paperwork. However in reality I would have to say I am responsible for Jennie's life, Dexter's life, my own life, and the damage my boat can do to others while on the water. We may joke, but when it gets serious so does my demeanour, and we take safety seriously.

Yesterday in New York, a 34 ft motor cruiser capsized and sadly 3 children died. A tragedy, no question. After debate on my last news commentary about the loss of coast guard auxiliary members in Canada, I was encouraged by responses and debate created. Progress comes from many minds defining their points of view. This is what is needed to progress, and try our best to avoid horrible incidents such as these in the future.

To say, "It is such a tragedy, I feel so bad for the families, and I can't imagine what everyone must be going through." is verbal diarrhea. Yes they will have a lot of grief to process, and this event will rock their world. Some may get better, some may never, C'est la vie.

I am concerned with how un-licenced amateur captains can get away on the remorse and pity of society. Sure you lost co-workers or children. However, it was your decisions that caused the loss. They should be charged for negligence, but the sentence does not have to be jail time.

In the case yesterday there was 27 people on a 34ft boat (example shown above). The captain had just purchased the boat and they were out watching the fireworks. Firework watching on the water is absolute chaos. In Vancouver it happens during a fireworks competition over two weeks in the middle of summer. The amount of alcohol and inexperienced captains out there is scary. Extra precautions must be taken for the safety of everyone onboard. In this case it is highly unlikely they had almost 30 lifejackets on board, and none of the children were wearing one. It is very easy for someone to fall into the water and no one to notice it. Even close to shore. This is a sad story and completely avoidable. If it was a paid captain driving the boat, they would need a pretty advanced licence to have 27 passengers, but if it is a civilian it gets passed on as a tragedy, an unfortunate accident.

I'm not a big fan of authorities on the water checking for lifejackets, and doing "safety" inspections. I would rather see people being held accountable for their actions. When the Costa Concordia sank off of Italy, of 4200 people on board only 20 are unaccounted for. People were ready to murder the captain in the streets. However if it an inexperienced captain who loses a higher percentage of his passengers onboard a smaller private boat, the captain should not be accountable..... Well that's not my opinion.


SV Pelagia said...

We watched Vancouver's Canada Day fireworks from Pelagia... at our dock, safely secured. (And I wouldn't go near next month's English Bay fireworks on Pelagia)

A check for life jackets (or whatever excuse/reason) by authorities on the water in NYC may have saved lives. That's the point.

Dave and Jennie said...

I agree we never went anywhere near that chaos on our boat when we lived in North Van.

The CG probably were checking, they most likely had a few life jackets on board, but no one was wearing any.

I put it down to a hard lesson in common sense.

We put a lifejacket on Dexter, and he's a dog.

It really sucks when kids die because adult negligence. There were 24 other people on that boat and not one thought it might be a good idea to throw some lifejackets on the kids.

Very sad.