Horrific accident at Hamilton Island

this was posted on Aus Outrigger today:

Hi All,

I'm posting this with the hope that it will never happen to anyone else and that something can be learn't from it.

On Monday afternoon at aprox. 5.30pm our open men’s OC6 team were 15 minutes into a training session when they were run over by a 35 foot Mustang power boat traveling at 20knots. The conditions were dead flat with no other boating traffic around. The canoe was in open water in Dent Passage about 100m off the end of the runway.

The power boat was towing tube riders at the time who had just fallen off and the boat was making a large turn when it went straight over the canoe at #2 seat.

Nathan Bowen who was sitting in #2 took the full brunt of the collision and is now in Mackay Base hospital. His injuries include, a broken right ankle, compound fracture of the lower right leg, fractured pelvis and a fractured lower vertebrae.

Nathen is likley to be in hospital for 6-8 months and undergo rehab for 2 years.

I think the main lesson to be learn't from this is to never assume that you have been seen by power boat drivers when you're out paddling, especially on OC1s . If this guy didn't see a 45' canoe in perfect conditions what chance do you have on an OC1.

When you dip your paddle in the water this weekend spare a thought for Nathan.


Submitted by capnron on Thu, 04/20/2006 - 5:51pm

That's a terrible story. I hope your friend is back on his feet again, my thoughts are with him. Theresa

#1 Thu, 04/20/2006 - 6:25pm

That's a horrible story. Hope Nathan makes a full recovery.

#2 Sun, 04/23/2006 - 7:23am

Although this instance appears to be a case of inattention/distraction on the part of the power boat helmsman, those of you that paddle in the late afternoon, where there is a chance you could return during or after dusk would also do well to consider a lesson from this.

Canoe's can be terribly difficult to see, especially at night. Make sure that you keep a flashlight on your canoe or person so that you can make your presence known. This is actually a Federal Requirement in US Waters.

Skipper Rich

#3 Wed, 04/26/2006 - 9:29am

The accident is indeed, tragic and completely avoidable.

I don't mean to steal this thread but this incident is too close to home.

Those of you who remember the 2003 Molokai Hoe race will also remember that Waikiki Yacht Clubs first crew's mirage was also split in half by a power boat that raced out of the Hale O Lono Harbor minutes before the start of the race. The second seat crew member was pinned under the boat momentarily and sustained serious injuries to his shoulder as the captain powered down his craft. You can imagine the crew and support crew's anger and disappoinment as their 2003 season tragically ended right before their very eyes and their hopes of participating in what is often referred to as the "Super Bowl" of Paddling, were dashed to pieces (pun intended).

Needless to say, OC1 paddler must pay particular attention to their surroundings given their relatively small size-- especially when sharing the waters with parasailors and tour boats that frequent your area.

Those of you who do runs from Hawaii Kai know that parasailors use the bay frequently. Although I have not had any close calls with these boats so far, I have often observed the captains of these boats looking back toward the person in the parasail harness instead of the direction they are headed in. This is clearly a red flag and a sign of danger. Paddlers should make every effort to stay clear from the area.

#4 Wed, 04/26/2006 - 10:48am

On a related note:

During the recent Malibu to Marina race, the swells were running high enough that the canoes were largely invisible to the safety boats unless we were right on top of them. There was more than one instance where, when running back up the line, we were very concerned about meeting a canoe on the other side of the swell.

I'm POSITIVE nobody would like the aesthetics of it, but attaching one of those orange bicycle flags to your canoe would greatly improve your visibility to other boats in the area in such conditions, as would wearing brightly colored shirts and caps.

ANYTHING you can do to improve your visibility or attract a boats attention is a plus in terms of you safety.

Skipper Rich

#5 Wed, 04/26/2006 - 11:23am

Snarfblat is right. The last Hawaii Kai run I did was on my Beach Boy Stand Up Downwind board. The guy driving the parasailors was heading in against the NE wind. I was fighting to stay away from them and noticed he wasn't even looking in my direction. He was turned almost completely around looking at his customer....

He ended up turning back towards the blinking buoy completely oblivious to my presence. If I took a farther out line he could of mowed me down..... Later in the same run that guy with the covered speed boat passed me from behind on the inside.... At least I'm standing upright so I'm easier to spot.... OC-1's, pay attention out there!

#6 Wed, 04/26/2006 - 7:06pm

sometimes nothing helps...

I was coming in one day to Port Douglas harbour when a fierce summer squall came over. The rain was so hard you couldn't see 100 metres. Being close to 4 o'clock the dive boats were coming in from the reef and 3 of them zoomed past at 20+ knots close enough to see the expressions on their faces totally oblivious to me. Orange flag + radar reflector!!!

#7 Thu, 04/27/2006 - 5:39pm

Those cattle boats never seem to really care - chances are fairthey saw you the whole time and figured as long as they didn't HIT you there would be no problem.

Irritates the snot out of me when I see power boat barreling by canoes and kayaks, or even just plain old significantly smaller boats as if their wake has no impact. I always make it a big point in the classes I teach to stress the liability that a skipper has for the affects of their wakes.

This also goes back to an earlier point made by others - The only one you can trust out there is yourself. Paddle defensively as it were.

One of the reasons I signed up with the CGAux was to try to educate as many boaters as possible about this stuff, making life a little safer for paddlers and other small boats.

Skipper Rich

#8 Fri, 04/28/2006 - 3:37am

Does anybody know if there are any rules for boaters entering and exiting a marked channel and if so, what can be done to those who violate these rules?

#9 Fri, 04/28/2006 - 4:44pm

There are indeed. To some extent it depends on the channel.

What a lot of paddlers don't realize is that they are a "vessel" as defined by Federal law. As such, they are subject to the same rules as all other vessels, even power boats.

I will provide a link to the Navigation Rules shortly. Your main concern will be Rule #9. Primarily, you want to stay to the right of the channel. If it's a large channel with large commercial or Naval vessels, you will want to stay between the bouy line and the shore. That is the main rule you need to concern yourself with.

Paddlecraft do not have any extra rights in terms of right-of-way, even when racing (except when racing on a closed sanctioned course - such as with the sprints in Marine Stadium in Long Beach.

More to follw.

Skipper Rich

#10 Sat, 04/29/2006 - 3:12am

This link will take you to the International Rules of Navigation, which DO apply to canoes:


Special attention should be paid to rules 8, 9, 13, and 18. It is usually a violation of one of those that causes people the most grief (accidents).

Skipper Rich

#11 Sat, 04/29/2006 - 7:32pm

just an update on the accident:

Nathan is still in hospital undergoing surgery and rehabilitation.

The case went to court and it turns out the boat driver is a lawyer. He got fined $1000 with no conviction recorded. Still has his speedboat license.

#12 Fri, 06/02/2006 - 12:03pm

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