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Sea Tragedy in the Philippine Seas
« on: February 02, 2008, 05:45:27 PM »
By Joe Espiritu
Columnist
Bohol Sunday Post

Long time ago, we had run a column regarding marine disaster. Many lives had been lost because people commute between islands using fishing boats or converted fishing boats as means of transportation. As a seafaring people, we think that disasters in sea travel are part of the facts of life. This is sad but true.

Loss of life at sea is unnecessary.

We are a maritime country composed of several islands. We travel from island to island for financial, economic and social reasons as well as for pleasure. An average Filipino crosses the sea at least once in his lifetime. For long distant sea travels, most use ships and boats built for that purpose. Some boats offer luxurious accommodations, others have to be contented with basic necessitates.

Yet they have one thing in common, they have lifesaving facilities for passengers aboard.

While ships and big boats can operate profitably between bigger islands, those who must commute between smaller ones do not have the same earning opportunity. Travel between small islands is irregular, sporadic and infrequent.

Therefore non profitable. Those who must cross the narrow seas will have to be contented with what they can get and the fishing boats are it.

Fishing boats are even hardly fit for fishermen. Most are either one man or three men boats, eight to twelve meters long with a beam or width of one to one and a half meters. They are fitted with outriggers and powered with an eight to sixteen horsepower four stroke, single piston air-cooled gasoline engine. The hull is not decked over that when an errant wave washes over the gunwale, the fisherman has to bale out water like mad to keep from floundering. Those boats are seldom hired to ferry people and goods across the sea but in dire need those will have to do even if the risks are high.

The fishing boats used to carry people are of a bugger version. These boats are fifteen or more meters in length more that two meters wide with a draft of one and a half meters. They are also fitted with outriggers, decked over and powered with a more reliable four-piston water-cooled diesel engine. Mechanical pumps bail out bilge water. Although these big boats are relatively more reliable thus safer than the smaller ones, they have one thing in common, they do not have safety devices.

For safety, small boat fishermen operate on an informal buddy system. They operate independently but are never out of sight from each other. If one meets an accident like engine failure, being swamped by seawater or a loss of an outrigger others go to his rescue. However, if the boat is last in coming in and meets an accident in the open sea, he would be lucky is he is located, unless he is equipped with a torch for night fishing.

Big boats operators, sure of the safety of their boats, sail singly. When they meet an accident, it is mostly fatal if the boat sinks from under them. They do not have lifeboats, inflatable life rafts or lifejackets. Even if they merely flounder, that is; their boat will remain on the surface but not afloat, they cannot be located easily out in the open sea. They are not equipped with flares. All the people in the mishap could hope for is there will be somebody who will chance upon them like a passing ship or blue water fishermen.

Control of passenger transportation of big fishing boats would be hard if not impossible. They take on passengers only on demand so they are not registered for shipping. Then, those boats operate far from centers of authority concerned. However, their operations can be regulated. Knowing that sea going passengers abound during holidays and fiesta seasons, the authorities concerned may be stationed a strategic points to be able to impose some rules to make sea travel safer. Sea accidents are not a part of the facts of life, even to a sea faring people. They are tragedies.

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Re: Sea Tragedy in the Philippine Seas
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2008, 01:22:06 PM »
Condolence to the the victims of the Princess of the Stars.
In 2004, I rode on that ship going to Manila. It was a big
and comfortable ship.  I wonder what happened. It's an
event beyond the control of man. We do not know the plan
of our Creator.
Life is what you make.
Kon naa kay gisoksok, naa kay makuot.

http://feldarblogspotcom.blogspot.com/
http://darayagrifacts.blogspot.com/

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Re: Sea Tragedy in the Philippine Seas
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2008, 05:41:02 PM »



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