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  #21  
Old 21 July 2018, 05:52 PM
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Life jackets were right above everyones' heads. I'm sure part of the problem is that people are crammed into those boats such that putting a lifejacket on once people are loaded is near to impossible.
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  #22  
Old 21 July 2018, 11:19 PM
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If they're unsafe enough that a passenger on the boat / DUKW, under normal circumstances, needs to wear a life jacket before sitting in them, then they probably shouldn't be being used for mass tourism like this... Should they be wearing life jackets while it's driving on the road, too?

On the other hand, the weather in the video was pretty rough. I think that's a lot more relevant to whether or not the boat should have gone out than the life jacket issue.
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  #23  
Old 21 July 2018, 11:50 PM
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Absolutely agree. There should have been some kind of weather check before boats go out on the water. We have a whole series of weather related rules with our dragon boat. On top of that, the steer-person, coach or safety officer can call practice at any point due to threatening weather. We also require that everyone wear a PFD.

I think that one of the duck boat employees should have required that kids be put in life jackets when the weather started picking up. This would have also set the tone for the rest of the passengers to begin preparing for something bad.

The one survivor who is talking has said that she thinks she could have save her children and nephew's lives if they were wearing life jackets.
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  #24  
Old 22 July 2018, 01:47 AM
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The previous comments about exiting from underneath a canopy with a PFD are valid, though. It’s very possible that the combination of a canopy plus a low freeboard and a lack of reserve buoyancy made this a lose-lose situation, giving credence to the idea that these things are death traps, at least on water.

ETA: Richard W mentioned the caution against inflating life vests prior to exiting an aircraft as an example. This was a factor in the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961 crash as it was ditched over water after running out of fuel (hijacking) and many of the passengers drowned because they inflated their life vests prior to exiting, trapping them in the fuselage as exits were submerged and the plane sank.

Last edited by ASL; 22 July 2018 at 01:59 AM.
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  #25  
Old 22 July 2018, 01:51 AM
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Yeah, it would make it a bit more difficult, but not by too much. My five year old god child swims to the bottom of my pool with a PFD on every day.
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  #26  
Old 22 July 2018, 02:02 AM
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If we had an :oops: emote I’d use it, but please see my ETA. I’m sure it would vary based on the device and the conditions, but it’s been a factor before.
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  #27  
Old 22 July 2018, 02:35 AM
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Different type of life jacket, different situation.

4 of the 17 people who died were found by divers. I doubt a life-jacket would have helped them except, that as I said above, that mentioning life jackets might have switched people into survival mode earlier.

The other 13 people apparently died clear of the wreck. A life jacket on any of these people would have brought them to the surface and face up. That alone would have save some lives. You can argue that some of the people who escaped might not have escaped which may or may not be true, but I think there would have been more survivors had they had life-jackets on or at least had been preparing for what occurred before the boat foundered.

Going back to the example you give, the passengers disregarded what they were told about inflating the life jackets. As I said up thread, I think they should have been instructed to put life jackets on the children. This would have put everyone concerned into survival mode. A kid in a life-jacket need only be pushed out the window and he/she would survive.

I think the statistics about wearing life jackets and drowning are clear enough. Its a bit like the old argument for not wearing seat belts. Sure there are anecdotes that counter the statistics, but if one were to play the odds it is clear what one should do.
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  #28  
Old 22 July 2018, 02:45 AM
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Eh, I’m not really arguing against life jackets, more like operating poor substitutes for boats outside of their safety parameters (which I posit may be exceeded more rapidly under a wider set of conditions than say, a ferry vessel). Ideally a boat (a sinking boat) would either allow for easy egress in the event of a sudden loss of buoyancy (being completely open would be the typical way of accomplishing this for something small) or, in the case of larger enclosed craft be relied upon to stay afloat at least long enough to don life vests, with life vests properly located to allow this.

I think ducks with canopies allow for neither. The answer isn’t tell people not to wear PFDs, it’s dont allow ducks with canopies out on the water.
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  #29  
Old 22 July 2018, 02:57 AM
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Totally agree. I think you hit the nail on the head; The duck boats as configured are not designed for safety. The plan for a sinking boat is to assume that won't happen.

The one survivor who is talking said they were shown where the life jackets were located and then immediately told that they would not need to use them.
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  #30  
Old 22 July 2018, 04:17 AM
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It may be that they should restrict how deep of water Ducks are allowed to operate in, as well.
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  #31  
Old 23 July 2018, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beachlife! View Post
The one survivor who is talking said they were shown where the life jackets were located and then immediately told that they would not need to use them.
I've been on Duck tours in Seattle and Philadelphia, and that does sound like the standard line. But "you won't need them" as in "you're not required to wear them because of the relative safety" isn't the same as "don't use them if we're in trouble". They're in there for a reason, and an intelligent passenger should be reaching for one as soon as the vessel starts taking on water.
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  #32  
Old 23 July 2018, 03:19 PM
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Are you saying the passengers were too dumb to save themselves?

Watching a CNN live feed; They've brought the boat back to the surface. The whole roof is torn away with life jackets hanging everywhere. It is otherwise in remarkable condition.

ETA: All of the vinyl windows are still pulled down on the left side of the boat, that would have made escape much more difficult.

Last edited by Beachlife!; 23 July 2018 at 03:26 PM.
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  #33  
Old 23 July 2018, 04:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beachlife! View Post
Are you saying the passengers were too dumb to save themselves?
No, but the survivor's statement that passengers were told they wouldn't need the life jackets shouldn't be taken as orders not to use the life jackets. I have nothing but sympathy for her, and I'm sure her attitude now is in part trying to deal with guilt, or deflect blame, or something of the sort, but she and/or the media are trying to create the impression that the "you won't need them" statement somehow prevented her from putting life jackets on her children.

I wasn't there, and I don't know what it was like on that vessel or how evident the danger was to the passengers, but I would hope they didn't feel discouraged from using those devices. I know from my own experiences on ducks that it's already a bit scary because of how low the freeboard is, and I was sure to keep my eye on a life jacket whenever it got even a little choppy.
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  #34  
Old 23 July 2018, 05:03 PM
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I expect a lot of the passengers on those things have little or no experience with boats of any kind; let alone enough to be able to judge when they were about to be in danger.

Were they even shown how to put the life jackets on, let alone how to properly fit one to a child?
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  #35  
Old 23 July 2018, 07:04 PM
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From everything I've read they were told: Life-jackets are above you, there are three sizes, you won't need them. That's not a command to not use them, but to the average casual tourist that would imply that if this changes someone is going to tell you; "hey people, I was wrong, its life-jacket time".

American tourists in particular are in a mode where they pretty much expect everything to be safe, all the time. For years now, it has been common for rides and tours such as this to have false scares that are part of the show. It would require someone getting serious at the right moment to kick them out this feeling that 'its all part of the show'. I'm reminded of the recent incident at a Disney parade where a dragon got on fire and everyone kept on filming thinking that was supposed to happen.
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  #36  
Old 23 July 2018, 08:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
Were they even shown how to put the life jackets on, let alone how to properly fit one to a child?
From my experience and memory, this is not part of the Ride the Ducks opening speech.
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Originally Posted by Beachlife! View Post
That's not a command to not use them, but to the average casual tourist that would imply that if this changes someone is going to tell you; "hey people, I was wrong, its life-jacket time".
And I would hope that was done. If it wasn't, there was a serious flaw in safety precautions (in addition to taking the boat out on those waters in the first place).
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  #37  
Old 23 July 2018, 09:15 PM
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In her live CNN interview, Tia Coleman said emphatically that they were never told to put the life-jackets on she went on to say that when the recover the boat, all the life-jackets would still be in place which appears to be correct. Of the 17 bodies the Coastguard recovered, 0 were wearing life-jackets.

The guy who should have made this announcement survived, but I don't think he's talking to anyone.
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  #38  
Old 23 July 2018, 09:58 PM
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Originally Posted by crocoduck_hunter View Post
It may be that they should restrict how deep of water Ducks are allowed to operate in, as well.
I don't think this would help, unless you mean that the depth of the water would affect the severity of the weather and therefore the likelihood of sinking. And if you're thinking about the likelihood of sinking, you probably shouldn't already be in a mass tourism situation...

There's a DUKW tour in Windsor that goes out on the river (Thames). It's bright yellow and has a fixed cover - so far as I could tell - not one that could be rolled up like the one in the disaster we're talking about. When I was last in Windsor (on the sponsored walk I did a few weeks ago) we stopped for a rest by a bridge and I saw it go from the land to the water down a ramp. That was long before this particular tragedy, but even then I thought "I wouldn't like to be in that - I've heard enough about them..."

If I had a point, it was that the depth of water doesn't make a difference. The Thames at Windsor isn't terribly deep, but it's certainly deep enough that a DUKW would be fully submerged if it sank. I've seen DUKWs over the years - I'm old enough to remember seeing them in British Army convoys driving down the motorway while we were going on holiday, or to visit my grandparents - and they don't have a huge draft as a vessel. The Thames might be 20 feet deep (6 metres) at that point, which doesn't sound much but would cover the DUKW twice over. (And it might be - probably is - more than that). So anybody trapped inside would still drown. And you wouldn't be able to operate one of these vehicles in water that's much shallower*.

Unless you meant that the depth of the water would affect the surface conditions enough to ensure that it didn't sink in the first place, I suppose. Perhaps not.

Whatever the conclusion, I know that I'd not go on a DUKW tour myself without being very conscious of the escape routes. And this applied even before the incident we're talking about - I thought it when I saw the Windsor tour drive down the ramp into the river a few weeks ago, too.

*(eta) Darn it, I'm overthinking. In case there are any massive pedants reading, the shallow-ish draft implies that you would be able to operate them in waters that were shallower than the Thames at Windsor. But I don't think that many of the tourist routes out there, or indeed many of the potential deployments in general, would fit this. The Thames at Windsor isn't an extreme, ferocious, body of water, and if any aspect of it (including depth) is too much for a particular watercraft, then that particular watercraft isn't a viable watercraft.

Last edited by Richard W; 23 July 2018 at 10:13 PM.
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  #39  
Old 23 July 2018, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChasFink View Post
From my experience and memory, this is not part of the Ride the Ducks opening speech.

And I would hope that was done. If it wasn't, there was a serious flaw in safety precautions (in addition to taking the boat out on those waters in the first place).
I wonder what the licensing and training requirements are for the captain of a boat of this type? He should have instructed everyone to put on life jackets. he shouldn't have been out on the lake in weather like that. Weren't their actually two of those boats out at the same time?
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  #40  
Old 23 July 2018, 10:36 PM
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There were two boats out at the same time, the second boat was just ahead of the one that sank.

They had duck tours in Baltimore up until about 10 years ago when they closed because the employees had serious concerns for their own safety (and that of their passengers). The employees were looking to organize to force safety regulations on the operators. So they closed up shop.
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