In the small hours of Sunday morning, the Boyceterous Catamaran Cruises vessel capsized and sank while under tow by the Barbados Coast Guard. Fortunately none of the 45 to 50 passengers and crew drowned, although we hear that some were injured. One of the tour boat’s engines failed and the boat had been drifting for an hour off the harbour until the arrival of the Coast Guard.
Today a person associated with Boyceterous is telling BFP and anyone who will listen that the boat was not taking on water or sinking until the Coast Guard vessel HMBS Excellence started to tow the boat to the harbour. Our source says the boat was towed too fast and too hard for the sea condition, and that the crew tried to tell the rescue boat to slow down but it was too late. It happened quickly, but not suddenly. The crew and passengers could see what was about to happen. (Bear in mind that BFP is an anonymous blog, getting information from someone who won’t give their name to print.)
News accounts and the Barbados Coast Guard are directing the attention and responsibility for the sinking to the crew, and not mentioning that the cause was the faulty towing procedure by the Coast Guard.
Seeing as nobody died there probably won’t be any public inquest or public inquiry, but Barbados should learn what it can and take all steps to prevent it happening again. Because if five or twenty tourists drown next time, that will be a national economic disaster.
We’ve said before (and so did Prime Minister Arthur) that we are not an “enforcement society”. That’s all fine when we are talking about nitpicking folks to death with government regulations – but not so good when we’re talking about having no Building Code, no enforcement of vehicle insurance regulations, and training, standards and equipment for emergency personnel that falls way short of international standards.
Here’s a list of factors that any real inquiry should look at. (MORE SINKING PHOTOS BELOW)
- Our source says that some folks were making videos at the time with their phones. How good they are is something else, but even after being dunked in the sea, there is a possibility that there are videos of the tow and sinking.
- Does the Coast Guard vessel have videos of the event? If not, why not? Video systems are cheap as a couple of bottles of rum these days. Lots of people have them in their vehicles. What’s the Coast Guard’s excuse for not having them?
- How many people were on board? What is the licensed capacity of the vessel? Look at it, just to the eye 50 passengers would be too many.
- How many life jackets were on board? Where were they? Were they instantly accessible? (NO! says our source. there was confusion)
- The vessel is a one-off practically home made boat. Who approved it and to what standard?
- Captain and crew: What are the standards? Are they real standards?
- Towing: had the vessel ever had tow tests during certification and licensing? Had the crews of both the tour boat and the Coast Guard practiced towing, or taken a course or certification for towing and other rescue work?
- Was single engine controlability part of the certification for the catamaran? If not, why not?
Thank God there were no deaths – but if a Captain overloads a tour boat and people die, that is half way to murder. There’s no excuse for it. It’s just greed, that’s all.
But the same goes the so-called “Authorities” in our non-enforcement, no-standards or 3rd world standards Bajan society.
Let’s hope we learn from this and really do something to prevent the tragedy that might happen next time!
Barbados Today: “Boyceterous” cruise ends in disaster
Sinking photos thanks to Barbados Today