A collision between two boats in Camden
County Missouri resulted in two men being injured, one seriously. A 25’ Regal was
hit by a 20’ Generation bass boat while both were operating on the Big Niangua River
at the 3 mile mark. Here are the facts. The Regal, operated by a 39 year old man,
was headed upstream, and was hit on the starboard side and sank in 18’ of water.
The bass boat, operated by a 62 year old man whose injuries were listed as serious,
was also a total loss.
Who’s at Fault?
Who better to ask that our resident boating instructor, Capt Steve:
Capt. Steve Says…
Well, that depends on who you ask. Undoubtedly, each operator will blame the other.
But let’s look at it from a Rules of the Road perspective and count the rules broken,
and see if we can determine who broke them even with our limited knowledge of the
For starters, they both broke Rule 5; Look-out - Every vessel shall
at all times maintain a proper look-out… to make a full appraisal of the situation
and of the risk of collision.
How did they break that rule? If they collided, they couldn’t have been keeping
a proper lookout. If they had, they could have avoided the collision, even if one
of them wasn’t looking out.
And then there’s Rule 6; Safe Speed - Every vessel shall at all
times proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to
avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances
We don’t know the exact speed of either boat, but there’s the beauty of the rules.
It says we have to maintain a “safe speed” but it doesn’t tell us what that speed
is. It’s a sliding scale. What’s safe in a clear and sunny day is not the same safe
on a foggy day or a congested waterway. And as both boats were totaled, we can conclude
that someone (if not both) was not operating at a safe speed.
And how about Rule 7A; Every vessel shall use all available means
appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions to determine if risk
of collision exists. If there is any doubt such risk shall be deemed to exist.
Ok, that includes looking out the window at another boat speeding towards you.
Or Rule 7Ai; Such risk shall be deemed to exist if the compass
bearing of an approaching vessel does not appreciably change.
Rule 8 covers actions taken to avoid collision, which we won’t
bother to list here but suffice it to say all of which were not adhered to by either
vessel. We know this because again, they collided.
Now there will be other rules broken here, but we can’t be specific since we don’t
know if they were meeting head on, crossing, or even in an overtaking situation.
There are specific actions for each. But one final rule that we can be sure was
broken by both is…
Rule 2B, due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and
collision which may make a departure from these Rules necessary to avoid immediate
danger. In other words, even if it’s the other guy’s job to avoid the collision,
you have to take action if he isn’t. Nobody rides for free, especially in the blame
I say they are BOTH guilty.
What do you think?