The Rest of the Story

Three salmon fishermen survive a scary boating accident and learn the importance of wearing a life jacket while on the water.

The Rest of the Story

A screenshot from Chris McMahon’s video captures the moment a powerboat ran over the stern of his 20-foot fishing skiff, with Bryan Maess still aboard. (Courtesy Chris McMahon/)

If you’ve been on the Internet in the last four years, you’ve probably seen the video. It starts with three salmon fishermen waving and shouting as a 31-foot powerboat bears down on their small skiff near the mouth of the Columbia River in Oregon.

“Hey!” yells the skiff’s owner, Chris McMahon. “Hey! HEY!”

But the oncoming boat doesn’t turn or slow. It keeps coming until its bow fills the frame, and the anglers leap into frigid water just as the larger boat runs up and over their 20-foot aluminum Weldcraft.

A GoPro camera mounted on McMahon’s boat caught it all. If you freeze the video at just the right moment, you can see Bryan Maess is still aboard the skiff as the 31-foot Bayliner Trophy climbs its transom. At that instant the third angler, Roni Durham, is half in the water and half out, her feet pointed to the sky. McMahon remembers diving headfirst into the water and staying under as long as he could to keep clear of the Bayliner’s twin propellers. It turns out he needn’t have worried—the props came clear out of the water, with one of them carving a serrated line along the Weldcraft’s aluminum gunwale.

The video clip racked up more than 7 million views online. There were news articles and lawsuits, but the story of what happened after the impact has never been told publicly—and it’s just as harrowing as the accident itself.

We’ll get to that in a minute. But first, you may be wondering how one boat can slam into another on a clear calm day. The short answer is operator inattention. The operator of the Bayliner, Marlin Larsen, was sitting down at the helm and may have been looking at his cell phone. He told Clatsop County deputies that he never saw McMahon and his companions in their 20-foot boat.

“According to his son-in-law and grandson who were on the boat, he kept playing on his phone and apparently they told him multiple times to stay off the phone,” McMahon says. “That’s what they told the sheriff’s department and Coast Guard. Larsen himself told me he had mounted some new electronics on the dash and that created a blind spot. So when he was running he just sat down and couldn’t see.”

The result was the collision captured on McMahon’s GoPro, and three people in the water. Only Durham was wearing a life jacket, and it failed to inflate.

“The collision happened so fast we didn’t have a chance to get scared. It’s like you walk out in the middle of the road with a semi truck coming and you jump out of the way,” McMahon said of the August 2017 incident. “The scary part comes when you have time to actually think about what’s happening to you.”

The accident took place near Buoy 10 at the mouth of the Columbia River, an area known for shifting shoals, ferocious currents and world class salmon fishing. On that day, an outgoing tide boosted the Columbia’s already powerful current, sweeping the anglers toward a forest of old pilings. The experience was every bit as scary as being run down by a large powerboat, McMahon says, especially since he knew what was coming.

“I’ve been out there when the current was ripping so hard that those pylons, which are like telephone poles, actually sway back and forth with the current,” he says. “We were getting pulled pretty quick so I was concerned that if we got into the pylons that might be the end of us.”

The anglers struggled to stay afloat in jeans and waterlogged sweatshirts as the current pulled them toward the pilings and the ocean beyond.

Chris McMahon in 2019. “I have never been on the water since without a life jacket,” he says.
Chris McMahon in 2019. “I have never been on the water since without a life jacket,” he says. (Courtesy Oregon State Marine Board/)

Fortunately, McMahon and his friends weren’t the only boaters on the water that day, and good Samaritans quickly swung into action. First on the scene was a man with his young daughter in a small boat with a tiller-style outboard. He maneuvered the little boat expertly to collect the three anglers just before they reached the pilings, but the skiff was too small to take the trio aboard. They held onto the gunwales as the driver motored slowly to the Bayliner, which by that time had slid off the mangled remains of McMahon’s Weldcraft.

Maess and Durham went aboard the Bayliner, but McMahon wasn’t quite ready to meet the man whose inattention had nearly killed him. “Quite honestly I was in shock and I didn’t know how I would react, so I asked him to take me to another boat that was hovering nearby,” he says.

Later, as the survivors spoke at the boat ramp with investigators from the Clatsop County Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Coast Guard, Larsen approached McMahon. “He came over and said ‘Hey, I’m sorry,’ and tried to introduce himself,” McMahon recalls. “I told him there may be a place and a time that I forgive you, but right now is not it and I just need some space.”

As the powerboat bore down on them, the anglers prepared to abandon ship.
As the powerboat bore down on them, the anglers prepared to abandon ship. (Courtesy Chris McMahon/)

Larsen, who was 75 at the time, told deputies he couldn’t see where he was going because he was sitting down and the dash of his boat was blocking his view. He admitted he probably should have been standing, according to the sheriff’s report, which notes that he used a motorized scooter to get around. Authorities cited him with three counts each of assault and reckless endangerment, and one count of reckless operation of a vessel. He pleaded not guilty, but died of natural causes before the criminal case made it to court. Maess and McMahon later sued Larsen’s estate for civil damages.

The Bayliner’s prop cut through the skiff’s aluminum gunwale as if it were butter.
The Bayliner’s prop cut through the skiff’s aluminum gunwale as if it were butter. (Courtesy Clatsop County Sheriff Department/)

Looking back on that day, McMahon says there’s nothing he could have done to avoid the accident. Evasive action was out of the question—he was fishing from the stern, far from his boat’s controls, and the Bayliner was on them in an instant. No one could have predicted the collision, which happened in fair weather with good visibility. The sheer randomness of the accident is the best argument for the one thing he didn’t do that day—wear his life jacket.

Before the accident, McMahon would typically only use a life jacket in rough conditions. The close call at Buoy 10 changed his outlook. “I have never been on the water since without a life jacket,” he says.

Source : Boating Magazine More   

What's Your Reaction?

like
0
dislike
0
love
0
funny
0
angry
0
sad
0
wow
0

Next Article

Pearl 80 yacht tour and sea trial: Supersize flybridge is sheer class

Towards the upper end of the owner-operator size bracket, the Pearl 80 is the classic flybridge layout writ large, with several design flourishes...In this video, filmed at Pearl’s UK dealer Berthon International, Nick takes us around the Kelly Hoppen-designed interior. A variety of layout options are available, but this particular model was built with an enclosed helm and galley, creating a separate crew area away from the main entertaining space. Being under 24m, the Pearl 80 can […] This article Pearl 80 yacht tour and sea trial: Supersize flybridge is sheer class appeared first on Motor Boat & Yachting.

Pearl 80 yacht tour and sea trial: Supersize flybridge is sheer class

Towards the upper end of the owner-operator size bracket, the Pearl 80 is the classic flybridge layout writ large, with several design flourishes...

In this video, filmed at Pearl’s UK dealer Berthon International, Nick takes us around the Kelly Hoppen-designed interior.

A variety of layout options are available, but this particular model was built with an enclosed helm and galley, creating a separate crew area away from the main entertaining space.

Being under 24m, the Pearl 80 can be used as an owner-operated boat, but most owners will employ a crew, who get a twin cabin that Pearl has fitted out to the same high standard as the rest of the yacht.

Article continues below…


Pearl 95 yacht tour: Inside the British yard’s first proper superyacht

Pearl 80 review: Stylish British flybridge oozes Miami glamour and luxury


Elsewhere on the lower deck, the layout is more or less what you’d expect from a yacht of this size, with a full-beam owner’s cabin amidships, two further twin cabins and a VIP double in the bow, which features an offset layout and walk-in wardrobe.

Having taken in all of the Pearl 80’s interior, Nick sets out to sea and shows us what it’s like to drive a £3million, 80ft yacht.

Enjoy the tour…

Pearl 80 specification

LOA: 78’5” (23.9m)
Beam: 19’6” (5.99m
Draft: 5’3” (1.6m)
Fuel capacity: 1,154 UK gallons (5,250 litres)
Water capacity: 286 UK gallons (1,300 litres)
Displacement (light): 57 tonnes
Engines: Twin 1,800hp MAN V12s
Top speed: 35 knots
Fast cruising speed: 25 knots
Fast cruising range: 350nm
Price: £3,100,000

This article Pearl 80 yacht tour and sea trial: Supersize flybridge is sheer class appeared first on Motor Boat & Yachting.

Source : Mby More   

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.