A 59-year-old Canadian sailor died in November when his 36-foot sailboat, steered by an inexperienced crewmember, collided almost head-on with a barge pushed by the tug Cape Cod on a clear, calm night on Chesapeake Bay.
The Moran Towing tug Cape Cod was pushing a 350-foot coal barge northbound toward Baltimore when it collided with a 20-year-old ferrocement sloop, Lady Pearl, off Cove Point on November 3rd.
The tug’s mate, who was on watch at the time, reported that Lady Pearl did not appear on his radar screen even after he saw the vessel. He reported that he sounded the danger signal, put a searchlight on the sailboat, reversed engines, and turned to starboard prior to the collision.
Reports indicate the sailboat apparently turned to port just before the collision, even as the tug was turning to starboard. The sailboat’s starboard bow and the port bow of the barge collided with damage mostly to the sailboat. A jury-rigged white steaming light on the sailboat was placed so that it would not have been visible to an observer viewing its starboard side, according to accident reports.
The yacht’s owner, reportedly feeling seasick and suffering from a sore leg, had been lying down in the boat’s cockpit for a period before the collision. Upon impact, the man was thrown overboard into 50° water. He disappeared and was not found until eight days later. His 57-year-old female companion, who was at the helm of the sailboat, was charged by local officials with negligent operation of a boat after the accident. Investigators said she appeared to have virtually no boating experience and was not aware of the vessel’s position nor what lights might be observed on approaching traffic.