Sunday, May 1, 2016

LOST BOYS SMALL BOAT FOUND

On July 24, 2015 two 14 year old boys left West Palm Beach Florida to go fishing.  This was not something new for them as friends they often went fishing together usually in the Intracoastal Waterway or nearby - but not that day.  For some reason they decided to go offshore in spite of a poor weather forecast.  It is reported that they filled the tank with 122 gallons of fuel and headed off to sea.  They were never seen again.

A search by USCG and others was initiated when they did not return that evening.  On July 26 their boat was sighted and reportedly its position marked by the USCG.  The USCG arranged for a private  contractor to recover the boat however the contractor was not successful in finding the boat next day.  Why the USCG did not recover the boat has not really been explained by them. 

Recently the boat was sighted up near Bermuda by a Norwegian vessel who recovered the boat and it has been taken to Norway where it will be placed in a container and returned to Florida.  A full investigation should then take place.  Surprisingly personal items belonging to the boys were also found and these are, we understand, at present going through forensic processing.

Video taken by surveillance cameras as the boat and boys passed under a Bridge at Jupiter Inlet on their departure has now been released.  One of the boys was reported as being a very experienced boatman and in the video he is shown transiting on the starboard side of the channel, this impressed me however what did not impress me was that neither had shirts on or were wearing lifejackets.  Also the other 14 year old was sitting on the port gunwhale facing the helmsman.  No such good seamanship for stated experienced boaters - even 14 year olds.

Once they arrived offshore in degrading weather conditions we of course have no idea what happened that day nearly a year ago  Hopefully an investigation will reveal something useful but it will be extremely difficult to do so.  What has not been in the least helpful is a remark by apparently a lawyer involved on behalf of one of the families that the possibility of foul play existed because the Norwegians found the ignition key in the OFF position and also the main battery switch, which was fitted in the console, also in the OFF position.  We do not know if this lawyer has any boating experience to make such a judgment from one fact like this is wildly speculative.  As an experienced seaman would know, indeed one local captain has mentioned this, if there was a problem with the engine it would be wise to conserve the battery power by placing these switches in the OFF position.

When conducting maritime investigations there are 500 page manuals to guide one from several Nations and the IMO, visit "Google®" to see one.   My own system is to make a page with several columns list possible events to speculative events (excluding aliens and the so called Bermuda Triangle) and as the facts develop moving items from the possible column to the probable column.  Finally developing the scenario in a logical manner.

Good Watch.

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