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Speed boat vs ferry danger

31 Jan 2011

A young skier narrowly avoided serious injury or death and a speed boat suffered structural damage after passing too close to a crossing ferry at Mannum.

The speed boat became caught in the ferry cable and stopped with its skier falling off and almost being drawn underneath the second ferry hull before being pulled to safety.

The incident is under investigation by the department with the speed boat operator already expiated by SA Police for twice exceeding the 4 knot speed limit in place within 100 metres of all ferries.

Brian Hemming, Director Transport Safety Regulation said the speed boat hit the ferry cables on its second pass – highlighting the recklessness of the operator.

“While the operator was visiting from interstate, it is no excuse not to be aware of the dangers that ferries present to passing boats and how to navigate safely past them – they were lucky to escape serious injury or death,” Mr Hemming said.

The incident demonstrates that it’s just not safe to pass too close in front or behind a ferry. This is because ferries are pulled along cables that run across the river. These cables can vary from being two metres below the surface to just above the surface depending on their tension – and present a hazard to all boats passing too close.

In this incident, the speed boat operator, crew, passengers and skier were lucky to survive and not sink their vessel. Here are some potential consequences from passing to close to a ferry and hitting a cable:
  •     A skier could become entangled, crushed or drowned.
  •     A skipper or passenger could be badly injured or killed when their boat stops suddenly on the cable.
  •     Inboard vessels could have their drive shaft torn from the hull and sink or have their rudder damaged or removed – disabling the steering.
  •     Outboard vessels could have the motor torn off, damaging the transom and causing them to sink
  •     Vessels can be drawn under and upturned.
  •     Damage to the cables can be very costly, can reduce the life of the cable and has the potential to release the ferry from its cables – disrupting vehicle crossings while it is repaired.
  •     Prosecution or other legal processes could be commenced to recover loss or compensate for injuries incurred
 How to pass a ferry safely
  •     Travel at a speed no greater than four knots within 100m either side of a ferry.
  •     Give a prolonged blast on a horn or similar signalling device from between 400 and 800m from the ferry.
  •     The ferry operator will signal his intention to not proceed from the bank via green flashing lights.
  •     Keep out of the way of a ferry or punt which is crossing a river or fairway by means of ropes or cables.
  •     Operate your vessel safely at all times.

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