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July 27, 2013– By Steven E. Greer, MD
Sailing schools operate classes in small boats on the Hudson River and New York Harbor under the supervision of trained professional sailors. They know how to navigate around the larger commercial barges, ships, barges, and ferry boats.
Mixed in with the traffic are various forms of recreational motorboats, jet skis, and kayaks operated by amateurs. Alcohol is often on board the vessels making for a dangerous combination.
Recently, a man ran his small powerboat into a barge on the Hudson, killing his fiancé and his Best Man. This raises the question of whether the kayakers, who complained to the Coast Guard about ferry boats being unsafe because they do not honk their horns, are actually the dangerous menaces to the waterways, rather than innocent little boaters.
There have been two cases of ferry boat accidents causing death to passengers after the boats rammed into the slips at too great of a speed. It is not hard to imagine a scenario whereby a ferry boat captain could be surprised by a kayaker, make a sudden turn, and then crash the boat with hundreds of souls on board.
Why is the Coast Guard not cracking down on risk takers in kayaks who think they can paddle alongside huge ships? Should kayaks be allowed outside of the large coves by Piers 26, 40, and 59? Is it safe to let small hard-to-see kayaks cross the busy ferry boat routes? Are there laws that regulate the kayaks which are being ignored?