The Captain Rob Cozen
Certified Marine Surveyor NewsLetter
July 2000 Archive


The biggest mistake that a small boater can make is thinking that the tug pushing that massive barge just coming under the Walt Whitman Bridge sees him and will take evasive action to avoid a collision . We depend on the fact that professional skippers equipped with radar and lookouts see everything that is going on around them. This is generally not the case because the skipper of the tug has all he can handle fighting the currents and winds that play havoc with boats (big and small) on the Delaware. Pulling or pushing a 500-800 ton barge stacked with containers or other cargo makes maneuvering even in a straight line a complicated procedure.

Depending on the wind and current, it would take a tug towing an average barge approximately 2 - 4 nautical miles (roughly the distance between the Ben Franklin and Walt Whitman Bridges) to come to a complete stop. It is even more dangerous for him to attempt an emergency course change to avoid a collision with a pleasure boat who is recklessly hogging the channel .

Don't depend on the skipper of a tug seeing you if you attempt to cross the path of the towed barge. The skipper in the bridge of a tug pushing a barge loses 2 - 3 miles of visibility straight ahead and up to 25 degrees off center. NEVER, cross the path of an oncoming tug or barge unless you are absolutely certain that your boat will safely cross with a lot of time and distance to spare. Cross his path or the channel at a right angle under full speed . But better yet, unless you are in a real rush, stay on your side of the channel and pass safely behind the oncoming barge.

The bottom line is regardless of fault, if a small boat collides with an oncoming tug or barge, the result could be fatal .


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Captain Rob Cozen
Master Marine Surveyor
P.O. Box 220
Somers Point, NJ 08244
Office: (609) 926-4949 - Cell: (609) 335-1500
(Outside South Jersey) (800) 64SURVEY - Toll Free!

copyright 1996, Captain Rob Cozen, all rights reserved.