Capsized Boat in San Francisco Bay May Have Been Overloaded

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

What can you do to protect yourself from boating accidents?

Sailing on San Francisco bay can be exhilarating. As afternoon approaches, winds steadily increase, making it a fun and exciting place for adventure-seeking family and friends. However, without following strict Coast Guard guidelines, boating on the bay can quickly become life threatening.

A group of boaters learned this lesson the hard way recently, when their 34’ Silverton cabin cruiser capsized and sank, leaving 30 people in the water. Thankfully no one was killed, but a 4 year old was pulled from the water, unconscious. He is reported to be in stable condition.

The boat, which sank about 100 yards outside of Fisherman’s Wharf, was rated by the Coast Guard to hold a maximum of 15 people.

Aside from the boat being grossly overloaded, bystanders report than none of the occupants were wearing life jackets.

How can you protect yourself on the water?

Bay cruises are common tourist attractions in San Francisco and other bays throughout California. While we all assume that the people we are entrusting our lives to know what they are doing, applying a little boat safety knowledge and common sense can save your life.

The next time you or your loved ones step on a boat, take a few minutes to ask the charter company or skipper:

  1. Is the skipper a Captain licensed with the Coast Guard? Even if you are on a private boat with friends, do not be afraid to ask about your skipper’s qualifications, what training they have and how long they’ve been sailing/boating.
  2. What is the maximum capacity for the boat? Most boats that you see on the water these days has been rated by the Coast Guard to safely carry a certain number of passengers, or at the very least, a weight limit. These ratings are there for a reason and your skipper should know the answer.
  3. Are the weather and water conditions safe to go out? All good skippers will consult the weather, especially winds and tides before embarking.
  4. Where are the life jackets? Every boat should carry enough Coast Guard rated personal flotation devices (PFDs) for the amount of passengers that the vessel is rated on. While you may not be required by law to wear them, at least know where they are.
  5. What safety equipment does the boat have? All boats are required to have certain safety equipment, such as flares, radios, fire extinguishers and navigation lights. Ask for a tour of the safety features.

Even if you are satisfied that you are in good hands, it never hurts to remain vigilant.  Enjoy yourself, but keep a watch to make sure your skipper is aware of boats in the immediate vicinity that might cause a problem. Odds are your skipper is aware, but it never hurts to see the boat twice.

Boat accidents can almost always be prevented when safety is the number one priority.

Injured in a Boating Accident?

If you are not a professional boater, you can’t be expected to know how to keep yourself safe at all times while on or near a ship. If you were injured or had an accident while on a boat, call our office today at (888) 806-6722 for a free evaluation of your case.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.