Boaters hit bridge at night on ‘Maxx’d Out’ as safe boating week gets underway

Boat sheared by bridge at night on Curtis Creek Baltimore AACFD

Boat sheared by bridge at night on Curtis Creek Baltimore AACFD

Too fast for night boating or ‘who put that bridge there?’

BALTIMORE, MD. Boating at night is fraught with risk for those uneducated on navigation and safe boating practices. The Anne Arundel County Fire Department reports on two hapless souls who were out for a ride on the water and returning at night-time managed to hit a bridge and rip off the top of their speedboat.

Maxx'd Out at pier John R. Smith IIITwo people were transported to Shock Trauma Sunday evening, May 3, 2015, following a boating accident on Curtis Creek. Around 9:40 p.m. firefighters and paramedics were requested to respond to the United States Coast Guard Yard in the 2400 block of Hawkins Point Road to meet one a USCG vessel bringing in two injured patients from a boating accident.

Maxx'd Out side view. Facebook

Maxx’d Out side view. Facebook

Coast Guard personnel on patrol heard cries for help and located the injured people and damaged vessel. The vessel had apparently struck a bridge outside of the channel, shearing off the top of the boat and ejecting the passengers. The injured boaters were brought in to shore and transferred to paramedics. A 24-year old-female and a 47-year-old male were transported by paramedics with serious but not believed life threatening injuries.

photo from Bridgetender of CSX bridge over Curtis Bay shows its a safe bet that any boater on the creek would not be surprised it exists.

photo from Bridgetender of CSX bridge over Curtis Bay shows its a safe bet that any boater on the creek would not be surprised it exists.

Safe boating at night from Boating Magazine:

Yet, nighttime navigators need not bite their nails. With the right equipment and decent weather, a night cruise can be safe, enjoyable, adventurous and even romantic.

Fortunately, there are more tools than ever to enhance or supplant our vision when navigating at night. GPS/chart plotters, detailed electronic cartography, advanced radar, thermal imaging, night-vision scopes and spotlights not only increase the safety factor but also inspire enough confidence to enjoy boating after dark.

Slow and Easy
The first rule of night boating is to slow down, no matter what high-tech navigation equipment you have on board. Even on a moonlit evening, you just can’t see as well as during the day. Objects won’t come into view until they are fairly close. If you’re going too fast, you might not be able to maneuver quickly enough to avoid a collision with an unlit object such as a crab-pot buoy or floating timber.

The best speed on any given night depends on visibility. During a full moon, you might feel comfortable running the boat a bit faster than you would on a night when everything fades to black. Are you in open isolated water, or are you bound by the confines of a narrow channel? The locale plays into how fast is safe as well. The important thing is not to rush. Just like on a romantic date, take it easy, cowboy.

Mood Lighting
Onboard lighting is a tricky thing when navigating at night. You need backlighting to see your instruments and electronics, and an overhead light to read a chart.

Yet once your eyes have acclimated to the dark, too much onboard light can destroy your night vision. Once this occurs, your eyes will need to readjust: Your pupils need to rewiden, and the rods, special cells that provide most of what we call “night vision,” must resensitize. This can take as long as 35 to 40 minutes.

With this in mind, most marine electronics allow you to adjust the brightness of the backlighting, and many units also have a “night mode” with a darker background to keep illumination levels to a minimum.

When it comes to instrument illumination, red is the best color since it doesn’t desensitize the rods. Most newer instruments are equipped with dimmers to adjust the intensity of backlighting and preserve night vision. ….MORE

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