Long Island / Shelter Island Boating Accident
Brief description of accident
An 18-foot, outboard-powered cuddy cabin boat suddenly started taking on water
through the transom. Early reports indicated no visible damage to the boat.
Two 7 year old girls were trapped underwater in the boat and could not be reached by rescue workers until the boat was towed to shore. One 63 year old male was dead on arrival. A 9-year-old boy trapped in an air pocket in the bow was pulled to safety after rescue workers heard his cries for help. The adults and one child had been pitched into the water when the boat began to flip. But the other three children were trapped in the boat.
Shelter Island is in the extreme northeast corner of Long Island, NY.
A Fatal Outing / 3 die, 5 hurt when boat capsizes off Shelter Island
Newsday www.newsday.com Monday 1 Sept 1998 By Bill Bleyer and Stuart Vincent. STAFF WRITERS; Mitchell Freedman and Andrew Smith contributed to this story.
Three people died yesterday, two of them children, and five others were injured when their powerboat sank off Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island, police and Coast Guard officials said. Two girls, cousins both believed to be 7, were trapped underwater in the boat and could not be reached by rescue workers until the boat was towed to shore. They died despite efforts to revive them en route to Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport, rescue workers said. The third victim, James Bembry, 63, of Mount Vernon, was dead on arrival at Southampton Hospital. But a 9-year-old boy trapped within the boat's bow in an air pocket was pulled to safety after rescue workers heard his cries for help, police said. "When the Sag Harbor harbormaster came, you could hear him [the boy] yelling," Chief James Read said. "He was screaming for help." A woman brought to the Greenport hospital was admitted in stable condition, a spokesman said. A man and a woman were in stable condition in the intensive care unit at Southampton Hospital, and two children, a 14-year-old girl and the 9-year-old boy, were treated there and released, according to nursing supervisor Melva McLaughlin. Shelter Island police identified the adults as Patsy Bembry, 59, James Bembry's wife, and Roy Dorsey, 56, and his wife, Vivian, 52, of Manhattan. Shelter Island police declined to identify the children but said the two girls who died were the Bembrys' daughter and the Dorseys' granddaughter. The cause of the accident in the warm waters of Gardiner's Bay is under investigation. Shelter Island police said the water was choppy yesterday afternoon, and there were some large boats near where the boat was anchored and the two families were fishing. Police said the water was 20 to 50 feet deep, and the boat overturned about 1,500 to 2,000 feet from shore, police said. Shelter Island Det. Sgt. Jack Thilberg said the 18-foot, outboard-powered cuddy cabin boat suddenly started taking on water rapidly, coming in through the transom, or stern, which normally rides low in the water. There was nothing to indicate why that occurred, he said, and no visible damage to the boat. Thilberg said the two couples tried unsuccessfully to bail out the water. The boat was almost vertical in the water when rescuers arrived, with only the bow above the surface. Capt. Bill Barker of Sea Tow Services Eastern Long Island in Southold, who towed it to shore, said, "There was nothing wrong with the boat. We really don't know why it sank. There were no holes in it. They didn't hit anything. It was a calm day." The boat was taken to Coecles Harbor Marina on Shelter Island. Barker said the two girls were found trapped beneath a canvas sun shade over the cockpit after the boat was towed the short distance to Shelter Island. "We were there 15 or 20 minutes after it happened," Barker said of himself and his partner, Capt. Joe Frohnhofer, who arrived with a second boat. "There were three children still trapped inside the boat." The girls, who were wearing life jackets, were unconscious. The boy did not have on a life jacket, Barker said. "We pulled them out of the boat onto the beach and started CPR," Barker said. "It was only a matter of two or three minutes from the time we righted it until we got it to the beach." An emergency call from a passing boat alerted the Coast Guard to the accident just after 2 p.m. and other boaters and Sag Harbor Harbormaster Sean O'Keefe quickly converged on the boat. Four people were floating in the water, three were trapped in the boat, and the eighth had swum to shore on Shelter Island, rescuers said. Barker said that when he got to the scene, O'Keefe had been told the three children were missing by the other boaters who had been rescued. "He dove in in his uniform and tried several times to find them, but he couldn't get into the boat" because of the canvas cover, Barker said. Barker and the Sea Tow men were eventually able to pull the boy from the bow but couldn't get to the girls until they had towed the boat to shore. Copyright 1998, Newsday Inc.
A Tragic Turn / How 3 died, 5 survived as boat flipped
Newsday www.newsday.com Tuesday 2 Sept 1998 By Bill Bleyer and Stuart Vincent. STAFF WRITERS Mitchell Freedman and Andrew Metz contributed to this story.
One moment, they were fishing on Gardiner's Bay, four adults and four children, friends and relatives, enjoying a perfect late summer afternoon. The next, their boat was filling with water kicked up by passing boats and choppy waves, the stern sinking and the boat flipping over in the water. In an instant, an ideal outing took a tragic turn, and by the time rescuers reached the boat, three of the boat's eight occupants, including two young girls who were trapped in the boat, had drowned. "One of the girls had a death grip on the steering wheel. I had to pry her fingers off the steering wheel. It was horrible," said Sag Harbor Harbormaster Sean O'Keefe, one of the first rescuers on the scene who jumped into the water to get to them. "They were pinned underneath the boat. One was pinned underneath the steering wheel and one was pinned underneath a chair. They were also fouled up with their life preservers, all tangled up in the boat." The adults and one child had been pitched into the water when the boat began to flip. But the other three children were trapped in the boat. Michael Bembry, 9, was plucked from the bow by O'Keefe just as a pocket of air was running out. But cousins Antoinette Bembry, 10, and Bianca Glover, 7, drowned, trapped by the rushing water and the awning over the boat's cockpit. James Bembry, 64, of Mount Vernon, the boat's owner, drowned after being thrown in the water. Roy Dorsey, 56, of Manhattan, was in stable condition in the intensive care unit at Southampton Hospital, and Bembry's wife, Patsy, 59, was in fair condition at the hospital, said spokeswoman Cathy Goldfarb. Vivian Dorsey, 52, was in stable condition at Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport. Michael Bembry and his sister Deidra, 14, were treated at Southampton Hospital and released. Monday's fishing trip had been long planned, and originally was supposed to include the four adults and the Bembrys' three children. But at the last minute, one of the Dorseys' daughters, Monique, 31, of Brooklyn, asked her parents to take care of her only daughter, Bianca Glover. Between 5 and 7 a.m. Monday morning, Patsy and James picked up the Dorseys and Bianca at their Washington Heights apartment, loaded up the car with fishing equipment and provisions, and headed out to Long Island. "They wanted to be with the kids and they all wanted to have a good time," said Tawana Dorsey, 24, the Dorsey's youngest child, who lives with her parents. Vivian Dorsey later told her daughter Tawana, "It happened so suddenly. She said she was holding onto my niece, Bianca, telling her to try to float. She was holding her hand telling her to keep her head above water. But my mother went into shock and the only thing she remembers is that she saw black. They were all trying to hold onto one another." Thomas Jacobs, 27, of East Hampton, a chef at Michael's Restaurant in East Hampton, was out on his 23-foot cabin cruiser fishing with six friends Monday and was the first boater to arrive at the scene. "I was just fishing. I saw the boat with its tip out of the water," he said. "We went over to the boat and then we saw the people in the water. One person was basically drowned and four were alive." He said they pulled James Bembry aboard and did cardiopulmonary resuscitation until they got to Sag Harbor. "The other people were in shock. We got out of them that there were three children missing. That's when we called the Coast Guard and Sea Tow," a commercial boat towing service in Southold, he said. O'Keefe and dock attendant Sean Burns, responding to a mayday from another boater, arrived shortly after Jacobs. "Sean Burns started ripping off his clothes and jumps into the water and he yells to me that he hears somebody screaming underneath the boat," O'Keefe said. "So he's talking to the person and tried to dive under the boat but he couldn't make it. He tried twice and told the young boy that he had to calm down and that help was on the way." O'Keefe pulled Burns back onto the boat and jumped into the water himself. "It was difficult because it [the boat] wasn't just flipped over. It was flipped over but tilted backwards. You had to dive down 15 feet just to come up into the boat" and then get under the sun shade over the cockpit to get to the two girls trapped there, he said. "I made it once and saw him. . . . I came back up and I tried it again and hit my head on the windshield. And then I said `Oh my God, that's it.' I came back up to the surface and I was talking to him again and then he screamed that `I can't breathe' and that was it; we didn't hear him anymore." When two boats arrived from Sea Tow, they pulled the boat up out of the water with a tow line just enough to lift the boat so O'Keefe could make another dive. "I grabbed him and pulled him down below the water and up and out," he said, and then he "actually threw" the boy onto a Sea Tow boat. Then O'Keefe dived again under the boat, pulling the two girls out of the water. "As the boat was being towed I held the two girls' heads above the water." A Coast Guard helicopter flew the two girls to the Greenport hospital. Police and Coast Guard officials said there was heavy boat traffic in the area at the time, and that the wake from other boats contributed to the sinking along with the wind and choppy water conditions. But they said there was no indication that any particular boat had passed too close, causing the tragedy. Copyright 1998, Newsday Inc.
Reuters / Yahoo New York News 3 Sept 1998(SHELTER ISLAND) -- Funerals are to take place this coming week for the three people killed in Monday's pleasure boat accident at Shelter Island, off Long Island. Two members of one family drowned... 64-year-old James Bembry of Mount Vernon and his seven-year-old granddaughter. Three other members of his family were rescued. The seven-year-old granddaughter of a family friend from Port Washington also was killed. The 21-foot, T-Craft capsized before rescuers could reach the boat.
I spoke with the Shelter Island Police about 3pm Central Time on 4 Sept. 1998. I asked them for information pertaining to the model of the boat and outboard involved in the accident..
They told me the boat was a 1972 model T/Craft and was a 21 footer. It was powered by a 100HP Mercury outboard and the plate said the boat was rated for 140HP.
I asked them if they had any "revelations" yet about what had happened. The officer said they are not sure, but from talking to the people involved they think they were in a congested area and the water was a little rough. The boat just started taking water over the transom. A full investigation will be done, but early on, it looks like it just took water over the transom.
The officer was very cordial and I thank the Shelter Island Police for sharing this information with us.
The 21 foot length certainly does not agree with the earlier news reports and makes the 8 people onboard more reasonable.
The age of the boat (1972 model) puts it old enough that hull floatation regulations may not have been in effect?
I checked the hull registration database and found two firms called T-Craft. One in Oklahoma and one in Florida. I am not sure if either of them was the manufacturer of this hull. Does anyone out there know anything about T/Craft?
Rec.boats Newsgroup Posts
Date: 2 Sep 1998 From: Ginny Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: LI BOATING ACCIDENT Did you guys hear/read about the 18 foot cuddy that capsized with eight people aboard this weekend? From what I heard, they were anchored 1500 feet from shore, all but one had on life jackets. Once the transom started taking in water, they tried to start a non-working bilge pump and bail water. Unfortunately, two of the three that didn't survive were stuck under the suncover and couldn't get out. This accident got me thinking of a "plan of action" for a situation like this. What are your views/poa's? Also, is it a fact that the transom of an outboard would sit lower than an I/O? In discussing this, someone said that but I'm not too sure. (I know one think for certain, make sure your bilge pump is working). Ginny
Date: 2 Sep 1998 From: Blake Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: Re: LI BOATING ACCIDENT Ginny wrote: > Did you guys hear/read about the 18 foot cuddy that capsized with > eight people aboard this weekend? In a lot of boat designs, yes the transom is much lower on outboards. In this case a bilge pump would not have done enough, buckets might have helped, but it sounds like it happened to fast for even buckets to bail out. It sounds like a series of wakes came in, crashed on the stern, flooded the hull, and if there was floatation in the hull it was not enough to keep the stern up (jeez, hate to say it, but in this case positive LEVEL floation just might have saved the two girls), the hull basically went vertical with the 3 kids still trapped inside...... How can you prepare for something like this. I dunno if you can, but you can take steps to prevent it. You need to know where you are anchoring, if you will be affected by other's wakes and waves, never anchor by the stern if you will be affected (something I see a lot of especially in LI and CT), keep an eye out for large wakes and move people around if nec when large wakes approach (towards the bow if they are coming from astern etc) Overloading was mentioned in another reply. The only other thing I do to prepare is have a sharp knife with me at all times and one mounted within easy reach that every one knows about. It can be a lifesaver if you can get to it and cut yourself or someone else free from lines,cables etc. That and not panicking may save your life (capsized twice in motorboats, 13' and 16' Whalers when I was a teen)
Date: Wed, 02 Sep 1998 From: Harry Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: Re: LI BOATING ACCIDENT It would be interesting to know what kind of boat this was, specifically. In smaller boats of the size under discussion, certain boats are much safer than others. Center console and dual console fishing boats, for example, typically have a fiberglass floor with a sealed hatch or two. Water that comes over the stern or side or bow does not go belowdecks, but is drained out the scuppers. Hopefully, those scuppers are big enough to handle a "flood." If not, larger scuppers can be installed. If you look at the stern of a sportfishing boat, you'll see huge scuppers. These boats are designed to back down on a fish and tons of water may come over the transom into the cockpit. The big scuppers drain it out---fast. Other boat designs do not fare as well. Lots of little pleasure boats have no real scuppers, and the only way for water to rush out is via the $15 bilge pump the manufacturer includes. This is something to seriously consider if you are purchasing a boat and are concerned about the safety of you and your family, especially if you boat in an area with "serious" water. My wife was looking at a nice bowrider once. She really liked the boat. I asked her where the water would go if she took a big wave over the bow. No real answer to that one. We passed on it. Boat design and construction are important. When you consider a boat, you should carefully consider how well it will perform under the worst conditions imaginable.
Date: 2 Sep 1998 From: George Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: Re: LI BOATING ACCIDENT :positive LEVEL floation just might have saved the two girls), the :hull basically went vertical with the 3 kids still trapped inside...... with the little information, it basically sounds like some poor thinking in a panic situation. You want to tell me how 5 adults managed to all get life jackets on, mess with a bilge pump, get off the boat, and failed to grab the kids?
Date: Wed, 02 Sep 1998 From: Larry To: ginny Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: Re: LI BOATING ACCIDENT I thought I had the fear of God put into me when our Regal started taking on water in the Hudson last year. But just looking at the pictures in the paper today blew me away. Especially the concept of being trapped inside and/or under a sinking boat where a life jacket is useless or even detrimental (What was that movie where the cruise ship turned upside down? The Poseidon Adventure, I think). We sleep on board a lot. Imagine the boat being swamped or capsizing or sinking while sleeping in the cabin? Assuming you wake up when you start getting wet, how do you get out when half asleep? Very scary! On another note, the last paragraph of the article in today's Newsday reads: "Police and Coast Guard officials said there was heavy boat traffic in the area at the time, and that the wake from other boats contributed to the sinking along with the wind and choppy water conditions". Just when are boaters going to learn to use courtesy and common sense, let alone follow the rules? Slow down when you pass an anchored boat. Your wake can be deadly! And think twice before you take four adults and four kids out in an old eighteen footer on a windy choppy day! In my experience in boating around Long Island, we have our fill of crazy boaters. Sometimes our waters are worse than our world famous Long Island Expressway! I try not to let it get me when idiots zoom right by by at full speed while we are at anchor in protected anchorages! I don't know how it is elsewhere, but around here, boaters tailgate! They'll nose right up to your stern while on plane, then finally overtake you with just a couple of feet clearance - go airborn over your wake, and then knock you out of control with their's. It happens everytime I go out! This tragedy is a wake up call! A major story! Newsday is one of the country's largest newspapers and they gave this story the full front page! Wouldn't it be great if 300,000 Long Island boaters, let alone the rest of the boating community, would gain just a bit more sanity out of this. Sadly though, we've had other major stories like this, and I doubt any of the idiots have ever recognized themselves.
Date: 2 Sep 1998 From: Ginny Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: Re: LI BOATING ACCIDENT > You want to tell me how 5 adults managed to all get life jackets on, > mess with a bilge pump, get off the boat, and failed to grab the kids? > That's what I think--I think I would have thrown them overboard--away from the boat with their lifejackets and a boat bumper and I would tell them to hang on, I'm right behind them!!!! G
Date: 2 Sep 1998 From: Ginny Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: Re: LI BOATING ACCIDENT >step 1: don't overload the boat. > I'm not sure the boat was overloaded--I would think an 18 foot cuddy wouldn't be able to handle 8 people(remember, 4 adults, 4 children) but I think I remember reading in Newsday or hearing on Channel 12 LI News that the boat was specked(however you spell it) for 8 people. Please, I'm having 9 adults in total on our boat this Saturday--our boat is specked at 13 persons and/or 2500lbs capacity (according to my calculations we are well under that)--regardless, I'm a little(to say the least) nervous. Ginny
Date: Wed, 02 Sep 1998 From: Harry Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: Re: LI BOATING ACCIDENT Ginny01OT wrote: > > They did not have a radio on board!!!! Other boats who saw what was > happening radioed in the distress call. Don't you think a bilge pump that > did not work could have been a huge factor? G No. The $15 bilge pump included on most cheap boats will NOT handle a sudden hull flooding.
Date: 3 Sep 1998 From: RMS Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: Re: LI BOATING ACCIDENT Living in Buffalo, I hadn't heard of the accident. How tragic! However, it's fairly obvious that they were anchored off the stern which is wrong. While your anchor is holding the transom down, it can't rise with a wave or wake. This is asking for trouble. Always, always anchor off the bow, even if it is a little less convenient. Had they been anchored off the bow, and a wave or wake came over the bow, it would have rolled over the top of the cuddy with no problem. Yes, the transom is usually cut much lower on an outboard. Some Grady Whites are cut within 8 inches of the water (dumb engineering). This certainly doesn't help if you anchored at the stern. Also, 8 people are far too many in an 18' boat. My 19 footer calls for 5 max on the little sticker, and I agree. I see far too many people having big parties on small boats.
Date: Thu, 03 Sep 1998 From: JC Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: Re: LI BOATING ACCIDENT Wait a minute...This was an 18' boat right? Aren't 18 footers required to have full flotation? I saw an 19' Chaparral with a HUGE 6-9 inch hole in her hull still floating a few years back...with 5 occupants in the makeshift bathtub...Or was this boat pre 1970?
Date: Thu, 03 Sep 1998 04:31:05 GMT From: fritz Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: Re: LI BOATING ACCIDENT This is a sad story, and hind site is 20/20 but I think the skipper has an obligation to know the capabilities of his boat and to know some rudimentary emergency procedures. The skipper should always have an idea if any of the passengers can swim or not. Whenever we take people out for the first time we determine their comfort level in the water, occasionally we get someone who feels more comfortable wearing a PFD and that's fine. Actually if they have kids we first go down and get the child PFD's and we find out quickly their comfort level with the water. Kids get a PFD automatically unless the parent objects. I suspect that (in this case) the victims were in such shock that they froze in place. In boot camp the 1st thing they did was throw everyone in the pool, I'll never forget some of those big eyes. Some people just froze in place and had to be rescued- In a swimming pool in Navy boot camp! You would think people going in the Navy would know how to swim- NOT! When taking people out we also introduce some of the safety equipment on the boat and where it is, and yes, I talk about the floatation and that in the worse case, the boat will still float, with the bow up, although we may be clinging to the other side of the boat. This may sound funny but I think people appreciate being told this, especially when you lose sight of land. First thing people have to know is if they should stay with the boat or not in an emergency, and what staying with the boat means (ie: not in their seat). I would venture to guess that most people when asked wouldn't have a clue how to answer this, because it would very much depend on the make/model/type of the boat. SO to make a long story short I think the best plan of action is to know your boat, your crew and make sure they know the basics of what to expect the boat to do in an emergency. In reality this takes only a few minutes, and shows a lot of respect
Date: 3 Sep 1998 From: Ginny Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: Re: LI BOATING ACCIDENT >I've had 11 adults/kids in my 19' bowrider and it was a couple inches > lower than nromal but handled normally otherwise. I think it depends > on the boat. And that was in a lake. I was a bass boat pull in late > one evening with so many people on it they were sitting on the sides > with their feet hanging over. Must of been 14 people. The boat > was about 3 inches from sinking. I think lake boating is different from the LI Sound boating-I think a lake is much calmer--but before anyone yells at me--I'm not sure, I don't really know. I called the boat manufacturer today and he said I would be fine with the persons on board but to tell you the truth, we're gonna take it real slow and see how the boat handles. If we are the least bit uncomfortable with anything, we will be hanging in the no-wake zone at Bar Beach. A lot will depend on the weather, tide, sound readings, other boat traffic and the boat's feel itsself. It is spec'd for 13 people or 1985 lbs of person(2500 total)- but that will mean nothing to us if we don't like the sound/feel of things-we'll see. Call me crazy but I went down to the boat today and got all the life jackets in order. I planned a little "lecture" about safety and emergencies prior to our departure and have already devised a seating plan to keep the boat as even as possible. Fortunately, none of us are big people--one is overweight but she is not in anyway obese, just a little chunky. I can tell you one thing, I will NEVER invite this many people again on the boat!!! I am looking forward to it, though, as we are all med students enjoying our last free weekend before we go back to torturous, grueling classes(and we range in age from 23-40).
Date: 3 Sep 1998 From: kieran Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: Re: LI BOATING ACCIDENT All kids have to wear a PFD. If the parents object they should not be allowed to go on the boat. I personally would prefer to lose a friend that to kill a friends child while under my care in a boat.
Date: Thu, 03 Sep 1998 From: Jonathan Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: Re: LI BOATING ACCIDENT From what I've read, it looked like things happened pretty fast. And the actions taken by the adults seemed reflexive, and what I think most people would do if caught off guard - boat suddenly pooped. I define "most people" as the average weekend boater. I've also read many "stay with boat" posts in this very same newsgroup. The boat, according to the article, was still afloat when rescue crews arrived. Suppose the adults tossed the kids away from the boat, the boat did not sink entirely, and some serious mishap befell the kids...then what? A boat with positive flotation can roll and tangle and/or trap its occupants too. Also, (and I will get flak for this), I think the adults were practicing safe boating skills. They were boating within sight of other boats, life jackets on, and within the rated capacity of their boat. The article also stated that there seemed to be nothing wrong with the boat upon inspection. If anything, fault them for lack of experience, which seems to be in abundance (experience - not lack of), along with hindsight, in this newsgroup. And I don't mean that in a negative way. The USCGA Safe Boating and Seamanship book says "First, consider the anticipated sea state, or water conditions. It is important to realize that if rough water is expected, less weight should be carried." If the owner, Captain, and perhaps the most experienced person onboard didn't suffer an apparent heart attack, you could fault him for not making sure all hands were accounted for, and above water as the boat sank. Perhaps everyone sitting in the rear of the boat, which am guessing is the case (from everyone getting tangled in the sunshade), exacerbated the crisis, or contributed to it happening in the first place. Along with the inexperience, or indifference, of passing boaters... "Police and Coast Guard officials said there was heavy boat traffic in the area at the time, and that the wake from other boats contributed to the sinking along with the wind and choppy water conditions. But they said there was no indication that any particular boat had passed too close, causing the tragedy."
Date: 4 Sep 1998 From: Ginny Newsgroups: rec.boats Subject: Re: LI BOATING ACCIDENT > Suppose the adults tossed the kids away from the boat, the >boat did not sink entirely, and some serious mishap befell the >kids...then what? A boat with positive flotation can roll and > tangle and/or trap its occupants too. Which is why you would toss them away from the boat, be right behind them and stay a safe distance away from the boat which can roll continuously back and forth, side to side if the water/wakes are overwhelming. Just a tragic story and I am sad for their families as well as the survivors.
First, we would like to commend rec.boats readers for seriously discussing
the problems involved in this accident and how they might be prevented in
the future. Second, we would like to especially thank Ginny for originating
and moderating the rec.boats discussion. She also helped this Okie figure out that
LI stood for Long Island. Third, we would like to congratulate
Newsday for their excellent
reporting of the accident.
We "summarized" suggestions offered by rec.boats readers as preventative measures or as a plan of action if your boat rapidly takes on water and capsizes. Note - these comments are not official advice from RBBI.
12 Sept 1998 I suspect that during the initial swamping, the children ran into the cuddy out of panic. Small children die all the time in house fires they set themselves playing with matches. The bodies typically are found hiding in a closet or under a bed,even when it appears that there was time to escape while the fire was small. Another possibility is that they were sent there to be out of the way while the adults were attempting to bail out the boat. I think the key here in either scenario is for the captain to prepare everybody to abandon ship before it is too late and have everybody above deck or in the water. The captain should be leading not bailing. At some point you have to give up the ship and save lives.
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