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Reaction to Raised Wreck: Too Many Aboard

Experts and observers agree boat that sunk in Long Island Sound was overloaded by every maritime standard.

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.

TheGreek July 13, 2012 at 12:06 AM
Bottom line, the captain is always completely and solely responsible for the safety of his passengers, under any and all conditions. The captain must always have the ability and equipment necessary to assure a safe journey despite any unplanned situation like sudden storms, rogue waves, engine failure, taking on water, etc. or the vessel should not leave the dock.
tj July 13, 2012 at 12:51 AM
horrible situation....but its not rocket science,,,,builder says boat was made for ten...they had 27.... I Would like to see a computer place 27 figures on a model scale of that boat....Maybe 7 top deck which is shoulder to should, maybe 7 people below deck which seems tight,,,,that leaves thirteen people up top all standing around all sides of the boat??? so saD
Joe Dowd (Editor) July 13, 2012 at 05:53 AM
The next question is what do we do about the overall issue: Is it time to require boating safety courses for all operators? Or could enforcement on the water be stepped up or made more aggressive?
Joe Dowd (Editor) July 13, 2012 at 05:54 AM
TJ: Your computer model idea is intriguing. Thanks for sharing it. Greek: Agreed.
Tina S. July 13, 2012 at 11:43 AM
By seeing the photos of the boat every adult on that boat should have KNOWN there were too many people on it. While such a horrific tragedy and my heart does go out to all of them, they were, as adults, all responsible for the safety of the children and should ALL be held accountable.
Joe Dowd (Editor) July 13, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Tina S. Many experienced boaters and one expert told me exactly the same thing. That all aboard any pleasure craft - not merely this one - bear some responsibility for safe operation. Thank you for pointing this out. I agree with you on your other point: This is a horrific tragedy.
TONY P July 13, 2012 at 02:40 PM
THE GREEK IS 100% RIGHT THE CAPT IS SOLELY RESPONSBLE
BK13 July 13, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I believe there were 2 captains that day, or at least 2 people were sharing the driving duties by switching off.
douglas stretton July 13, 2012 at 05:31 PM
I'd like to commend Mr Dowd for providing a very informative article for the readers. Many parts of the article reflect what I have been blogging about since the tragedy. I have been some what astonished by some of the comments that have been posted by the readers in some of the recent reportings by the Patch. One commenter noted that he felt the captain made ..... and I quote "good call" by having 27 passangers onboard according to his math. I hope this article puts his thoughts into perspective. Nobody can turn the clock back or change the string of events that led to the tragedy that occurred. But one can only hope that when this case comes to trial, be it civil, criminal or both...the facts and truth will unfold before the public. My hope is that everyone who thinks about stepping onboard a boat and the captain who is responsible for the passangers...thinks a little more before planning a trip and leaving the dock.
douglas stretton July 13, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Joe you raised 2 very good questions that requires simple answers. Yes, you should be required to take a safety course if you operate a boat. No question about it and it's something that should have been put in place years ago. As I'm sure you know, the course is free. It could be fased in over a 2 period after enactment. And guess what, if the state needs money so bad, charge a license fee. Our legislators need to draw up some real plans that will address some real issues. Not like this doctor from Centerport who stood on a soap box about banning cigarettes in portions of the county parks. It has it's merrits but pick a real issue to be up in arms about, something that will make a real difference. Stepped up enforcement and increased patroling of the waters would be a help. But like the police on land...they can't be everywhere. Even with all the stepped up enforcement to address DWI in recent years, it still goes on everyday. You need only pick up the paper or watch the news on tv. And here's a little tid bit to you and the readers, and you can correct me if I'm wrong. If you are convicted of BWI and subsequently convicted of DWI on land...the BWI doesn't count during sentencing. The judge isn't allowed to take that into account during sentencing. It can't go on your license...because you don't need a license to operate a boat. I rest my case and something needs to be done to change the laws.
Tom Gillen July 13, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Yes but the owner of the boat is the one who is referred to as the skipper or captain. Owner always has all the responsibility....for example if he or she lets someone else drive and that person crashes into something, the boat's owner is liable. same goes with loss of life.
Jason Molinet July 13, 2012 at 09:50 PM
@Douglas Thanks for the comment.
Joe Dowd (Editor) July 13, 2012 at 10:09 PM
@Douglas. Thank you. It is my hope we can raise awareness about this now. I will help do that with the Power Squadron folks and others. jd
Just Sayin July 14, 2012 at 12:23 PM
Tragic story caused by obvious overload. That was known on day 1. I am curious to who pays for raising the boat?
John K. Massaro July 14, 2012 at 04:46 PM
{FLAGGED}
NK July 14, 2012 at 11:51 PM
I am not a boater (or a rocket scientist) but when I heard of this accident and that 27 people were on a 34 foot boat I thought they must be drunk. The fact the captain was sober is truly mind boggling.
rena damon July 15, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Just terrible. Regardless of blame, I hope that this tragedy leads to better, more defined regulations and awareness of boating safety.
boat person July 16, 2012 at 02:50 AM
I think the captain and or operator should both have their heads examined...any one who has any common sense should have known that amount of people on board was wayyyyyyyyyy too many...there is no excuse for that boat leaving the Marina with that amount of a load...unfortunately Sivertons have also always been a little tender but any boat of that length would surelyhave suffered the same fate...I am sorry for my harsh comments but both owner and operator (if one was different from the other) had no business in taking that boat out.
just1nptmom July 16, 2012 at 01:01 PM
I agree with you on that.
Pat & Erin July 16, 2012 at 01:10 PM
What a terrible comment! Three children are gone and you're wondering who is going to pay to raise the vessel? I know that I have been called cold by some people but you lady take the cake. I think the Captain and boat owner have a lot to answer for, but that cost will be paid probably through a few avenues one being insurance. Maybe you should call the kids parents to make sure that they are aware that some people in the community have "gotten over" this tragedy and want to know who is footing the bill. Too bad there isn't a pill for people like yourself to take that would give you some compassion.
BK13 July 16, 2012 at 02:29 PM
The interviews and comments from the families involved are just heart-breaking. I wish them nothing but inner peace to get through this. It's horrible enough to go through this, but the next few years of court cases involving family members will just drag their pain and grief out in the public eye. God Bless.
walter valentine July 16, 2012 at 06:55 PM
"But boating experts said Silverton's yachts, known to be top heavy and loaded with amenities, haven't changed substantially over the years." That is not anywhere near a true statement
walter valentine July 16, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Also, additional laws, courses, etc, may sound like a good idea, but you cant legislate "common sense" "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.) " Those numbers don't add up, here is why (copy and past from the Silvertons Owners Club) "I think the writer of that article should do a little more research. He said that it's rated for a load of 2227 pounds including 10 people, fuel, water etc... It must be without the fuel and water because those 10 people would have to be awfully skinny. 286 gallons of gas at 6 lbs per is 1716 pounds alone. Fill up the water at 90 gallons at 4 lbs a gallon is 360 lbs. Add them together and you get 2076 pounds. That means the average weight for the ten people has to be 15 pounds???? "
VINCE DEL PRIORE August 15, 2012 at 09:04 PM
IT SEEMS TO ME THAT 27 PEOPLE ABOARD ANDFUEL AND WATER ABOARD THAT THE COCKPIT SCUPPERS WOULD BE UNDER WATER THEREHAD TO BE MUCH WATER IN THE BILGE WHICH WOULD HAVE SHIFTED TO ONE SIDE OF THE BOAT THAT PLUS THE WEIGHT OF THE PEOPLE AN BOARD WOULD CERTANLY CAUSED THE BOAT TO LIST BADLY MAKING IT OMPOSSIBLE TO RIGHT ITSELF CQUSING IT TO ROLL COMPLETELY OVER. THE OWNER SHOULD HAVE REALIZED THAT.HE SHOULD BE HELD RESPONSIBLE. NO EDUCATION OR LAW IN THE WORD CAN TEACH COMMON SENSE. VINCEFROM NEW JERSEY
FYI August 15, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Wow, news takes a long time to get to NJ.
Lisa Rodriguez February 14, 2013 at 05:02 PM
Such an unnecessary tradegy. How irresponsible and negligent of the captain/owner to have so many people on board, 17 extra people according to the Silverton manual. Although no charges are being brought against the captain, he will have to live with the guilt the rest of his life of the innocent lives lost.

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