The haunting images of the raised wreck of the Kandi Won sparked a common reaction by veteran boaters throughout Long Island.
Experts and casual observers agreed: In no way was the 34-foot Silverton yacht designed to carry 27 people, including the aboard that boat on July 4.
"We really want to emphasize: Read your manual," said , a boating safety expert. "If you don't have it: Find it. Get one."
"Three dead and 24 rescued...why were there 27 persons aboard a 34-foot boat," said Patch blogger , who shot photos of the wreck being transported on a flatbed truck from Oyster Bay. "Aren't there specific regulations regarding the maximum number of persons allowed on a boat of a particular size? If not, there should be."
There are, and the Silverton Marine Corp., now in bankruptcy with all its employees laid off, would have to agree.
Patch obtained a copy of an owner's manual for a late-model Silverton Convertible Yacht of the same design, length and general specifications of the Kandi Won.
That manual recommends the boat's maximum number of passengers not exceed 10. It's maximum recommended load is 2,227 pounds, which includes items such as water and fuel, according to the manual. (See attached page from manual.)
The manual is not for the specific 1984 model that went down. Silverton manuals that old are not available online and the Millville, N.J. company is out of business.
But boating experts said Silverton's yachts, known to be top heavy and loaded with amenities, haven't changed substantially over the years.
All agreed the design of the Silverton convertible was not sufficient to accommodate 27 people on a 34-footer at any time. The photos of the salvage show several FBI divers aboard the vessel (see attached photos.) Many observers saw those images and said they couldn't imagine the boat holding 27 people.
"When I saw it I said: '27 people? Are they out of the minds?' " said Jon Ten Haagen, executive officer of the
"While this manual is for a more recent, completely restyled version of the boat -- possibly a different design entirely -- one might still assume it unlikely that the recommended maximum persons on the 1984 version would vary tremendously from the newer version," said Weiss, the spokesman for the District 3 who teaches "It would not seem to make sense that the earlier 1984 model would have a capacity of nearly triple the newer version."
Weiss cautioned that this is speculation, especially since authorities now have the boat intact and are conducting an investigating.
"What I'm hoping comes out of this that education is vitally needed about boating safety," Ten Haagen said.
The manual also says Silverton vessels are designed to remain afloat for some time after being "swamped or capsized," and recommends operators to remain with the vessel until help arrives, which Weiss said is a standard safety precaution. Capsized vessels are easy to spot; swimmers are not.
However, eyewitnesses and authorities said the yacht sank relatively rapidly after capsizing. The first victim was pulled from the water by an Oyster Bay firefighter quickly, but the little girl could not be revived.
After that, the rescue attempts were temporarily called off because the boat was sinking and drifting, causing perilous conditions for any first responder. Eventually, Nassau Police Dive Units descended on the wreck and recovered the two other children's bodies, initial police reports indicate. Those bodies were located inside the cabin.
Authorities said the dive team moved quickly, but is not a 24/7 operation. Dive teams are designed for salvage and recovery efforts and less frequently for first-response rescues, experts said.
Nassau Police and specialists with the FBI raised the wreck Wednesday and towed it to shore. Now, authorities have trucked the boat to a marine facility on the South Shore. There, the ruined yacht will be examined by forensic experts for structural flaws and other clues that could explain why it capsized and sank in July 4 following a fireworks display.
Weiss said reading the manual is vital because it contains important information about the boat's capacity.
"Just as important as educating oneself through United States Power Squadrons courses or those of other boating organizations, the prudent skipper also takes responsibility for becoming fully familiar with his or her boat and fully abides by the owners manual specifications and recommendations."
Among the questions lingering are how many life jackets were aboard and whether the vessel had been taking on water at the time of the disaster. The boat's operators described a rogue wave suddenly striking the vessel and tipping it over. Those who survived, 24 in all in including several other children, reported suddenly being thrown into the darkened waters.
The Nassau District Attorney's Office will have to determine whether criminal charges are appropriate, based upon the results of the forensic investigation now being performed on the vessel. That probe could take more than a week, Nassau Police said.
No charges have been filed in connection with the incident. Because of the length of the boat, it is not clear whether any state or maritime law was violated by the number of people aboard, police and experts have said.
As darkness fell Wednesday night, a bizarre scene descended on , where a small concert played for several hundred people gathered before a mobile stage. As joyous music filled the air, the wreck of the Kandi One was resting out of the water some 300 yards off in the distance.