Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chapter 10: The Phantom Barge

Alison Armstrong writes this chapter of the book about an incident that she and a friend experienced while sailing their kayak on the Hudson River in New York after dark. Their kayak was run down by a barge that seemed to come out of nowhere.

Notice how quiet the barge in the video is, how fast the vessel is moving, and how far back the pilot house is from the front of the barge.

In the next video, take a look at the wall of water in front of the barge, and how big this raft of six barges is. It would be very difficult for the captain of the tug pushing the barges to see anything as small as a kayaker.

It's also important to remind paddlers that we do not have the right of way over a barge. In this case, we are not the vessel having less ability to maneuver. In the story by Alison Armstrong, she and her friend, Ken were in a shipping channel. Kayaks in a busy shipping channel is the equivalent of riding a tricycle on the freeway. Add to that the fact that this happened at night when visibility was limited even more. Alison and Ken had running lights and illuminated their sail with a marine flashlight. The barge in the story may have been operating illegally, but would that have been much consolation to anyone had Alison and/or Ken ended up dead in the accident?

What are your thoughts about paddling at night? Kayak sailing? Paddling in areas of large boat traffic? What experiences have you had?


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