The death toll so far is 38 in a ferry accident in Hong Kong
Harbor. Five children were among the
dead. More than 100 people were taken to hospital, with nine suffering serious
injuries or in critical condition, the government said in a statement.
This may be a very important issue in determining why the Ethan Allen Capsized.
In 1997 the owners altered the canopy from canvas and vinyl to wood and fiberglass, Rosenker said, and three years later they installed a larger engine. more.
Even a visual inspection of this structure had to add in excess of 100 lbs. More importantly, the wood canopy added this weight up high, well above the center of gravity. Obviously, adding more weight up high would have affected the stability of the boat. The higher the weight, the more the stability would be affected.
Further, a boat's maximum passenger capacity is affected by several variables under a Coast Guard Formula, one of which is engine power. Adding more weight up high, and adding engine power would both affect the boat's stability. Here is what boats.com has to say about horsepower and weight capacity as they relate to stability.
Last, the manufacturers set the Coast Guard capacity maximum, which they reach using an accepted formula, and they also determine the horsepower since they know how much engine weight will still allow their boat to float level.
It should be noted that the NMMA is much tougher on calculating weight maximums, as well as increasing the size of boats requiring flotation from the Federal standard of 20 feet up to 26 feet. The NMMA also has a test where the driver must crank the wheel 180 degrees in a split second. If the boat is not capable of such a turn through 90 degrees at full throttle without the driver losing control, then the NMMA requires a "Maneuvering Speed" placard be posted warning that sudden turns may cause a loss of control above a certain speed.
The important points here are that:
Manufacturers set maximum capacity which is basically a formula which determines how much weight a vessel can safely handle. What did Dyer set as the capacity of this boat before it sold it to Shoreline?
Capacity is driven by total weight, extrapolated to number of people based on averages. Total weight is also specified. Just because there were only 48 out of a maximum of 50 passengers does not mean that the Ethan Allen was within its weight maximum. Boat owners can not simply rely on number of passengers when they load their vessels. Other things affect total weight such as benches, structural additions and other equipment.
When a boat is s modified like the Ethan Allen, this will affect capacity. Did the owner operator Shoreline do anything to examine capacity after it added weight up high with the roof structure and added horsepower?
There is criteria not only for total weight, but for how many people may be aboard given the deck and rail area (see below)
Here is some information from the Coast Guard about capacity regulations for small passenger vessels with capacity between 6-150 passengers. It is important to note that it is unclear whether the Coast Guard requirements would have been the regulations which would have governed this vessel, or whether New York state Parks and Recreation department regulations would have controlled. Recall, this vessel operated on the state inland lakes, and not navigable waters usually governed by federal law.
Title 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Subchapter T, Parts 175 to 187, governs the inspection and operation of many small passenger vessels.These regulations are used to inspect boats. Here is the link to 46 cfr 176.113.pdf and 46 cfr 177.820.pdf which appear to be the regulations in place for Shoreline Cruises in their operation of the Ethan Allen. Here are some links to a CFR index from which you can research all the CFR's which might apply in this situation.
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