Only the quick actions of a City Cruises skipper averted tragedy on the River Ouse in York, a boat owner has told YorkMix.
Justin Martin watched in alarm as a small motor boat was steered unseen into the path of the large vessel.
Justin said if the captain hadn’t reacted so swiftly when the alarm was raised and reversed his boat, it could have pushed the smaller one underwater.
A ten-second video of the Red Boat being swept along by the front of the City Cruises River Prince has been seen by thousands of people on social media.
But Justin saw the whole thing – and said the skipper of the bigger boat had no way of knowing the smaller one was in his path after its occupants disregarded river safety rules.
Rammed his boat
He saw the drama unfold at 4pm on Saturday (4 July) as he ate a meal on board his own boat, moored at King’s Staith Landing – before becoming a victim of the reckless driving himself.
Two young people had hired a self-drive Red Boat from City Cruises York, and were told to keep their distance from larger vessels.
Justin said: “They’d come along on the left hand side of the big cruiser. So there was no way for the captain of the cruiser to see that little Red Boat.
“Then they just cut straight in front of him, and got stuck under his bow – the front of the boat.
“We were trying to get the captain’s attention to get him to back up because the little Red Boat was jammed there.
“Which he did. And as soon as he did, the kids in the little Red Boat still had their boat in gear, so when it was released it came across and ran straight into the back of my boat.”
The crash caused thousands of pounds of damage to his boat, a Sealine 310 sports cruiser. It cracked the fibreglass platform, dinted the front and scuffed the side.
‘They were lucky’
Justin said things could have ended very differently.
They weren’t behaving as they should have done.
They were lucky. If he’d not stopped the boat, he could have quite easily pushed the little red one underneath. It could have ended up quite tragically.
Once somebody falls in that river, unless they’re taken out pretty much straight away they don’t stand a great deal of chance due to all the undercurrents.
Justin frantically signalled the captain of the River Prince about the danger. And a crew member on board, alerted to a problem by shouting from the bank, spotted what had happened and told the skipper who immediately reacted.
A spokesperson for City Cruises said: “Around 4pm on Saturday 4th July 2020, an incident occurred between two City Cruises York vessels, River Prince and a self-drive Red Boat.
“Moments after the self-drive Red Boat collided with River Prince’s bow, the captain took swift action by placing the larger vessel into reverse to give distance between the two boats.
“All customers who hire a self-drive Red Boat are given a full briefing and set of instructions ahead of taking to the water and are advised to keep a good distance from larger vessels.”
Police attended soon afterwards but took no action. No one was injured.
The York Rescue Boat then helmed the damaged Red Boat back to the landing.
Justin is a regular on the River Ouse. “It’s the first incident I’ve seen,” he said.
“They’re usually well-behaved when they’re in the boats. I know they give them some decent instructions before they hire them out.”
People have to be over the age of 18 to hire the boats.
“When I went down to talk to the guys at the Red Boat place it turns out they’d used fake ID to hire the boat,” Justin said.