Rule #1: Never stay on a boat during a hurricane...
Rob Palmer - OW/Civil Engineer
August 10, 2006 at 15:36:30
Don, you ask "what would you have done" after being told by the captain that it would be safer to stay on the boat than on land with a hurricane approaching the area...
Well first I would have noted that the captain was even stupider than I had already thought after he failed to secure the vessel and evacuate its passengers at least 24 hours before projected landfall of the hurricane. Second, I would have demanded that he utilze all resources at his disposal to arrange for immediate evacuation of all passengers and non-essential crew to the best available "safe shelter" in the area, preferably at least five kilometers inland and on high ground.
I know I'm not alone in thinking that the Richmond Dive Club members were either incredibly naive or left their common sense at home when they headed out the door for their holiday in Belize. I don't mean to excuse the boat operator and the boat crew for their failure to safeguard their passengers. No question about it--they were negligent. But at the end of the day, the decision about where I park my butt during a hurricane is mine and mine alone. And there's no way I would ever attempt to ride out a hurricane even in my own boat, much less in a below deck cabin of a top-heavy, big-window "holiday" cruise boat tied to some dock in some Banana Republic.
Stay on the boat? No thank you captain. There are too many unknowns in that equation including the maintenance history of the vessel, its stability characteristics, the quality of the mooring equipment both on the dock and on the boat, the potential for other boats that are improperly moored to break loose, crew experience and ability, state of onboard emergency equipment especially bilge pumps, the exact direction, force and actual landfall of the hurricane, etc, etc.