17 dead after duck boat sinks at Table Rock Lake near Branson, Missouri


Try logging on from Russia.


When I started flying in the 60s, the average weight of a US male for weight and balance calculations per the FAA was 165 lbs.
According to CDC the average height of a male in the US has increased by 1 inch between 1960 and 2002 but the average weight went from 166 to 191 lbs. and the average weight in 2017 was 195.7 lbs.


From the Inspection Circular:

Installation of windows, to provide shelter from the weather.

Probably plexiglass windows which donot shatter and are pretty hard to remove. They were really trapped in an enclosed environment and had no chance to escape at all. On top of that there is the reduced aisle width…

Installation of school bus type seating, outboard of a centerline aisle with reduced aisle width and spacing.

177.820 – Seating

Because of the limiting design and construction of DUKWs and relatively short in-water operations on protected waters, these vehicles should be granted special consideration from the aisle width and fixed seating criteria. Aisle widths may be allowed to be reduced to no less than 14 inches and the fixed seating criteria to no less than 17 inches per passenger. In addition, the distance from seat back to seat back may be reduced from 30 inches to 28 inches.

Special consideration due to operator’s wishes?


Could be roller curtains made from heavy plastic, either in sections handled manually, or full length and remotely operated.


From the CFRs definitions:

Protected waters
Protected waters is a term used in connection with stability criteria and means sheltered waters presenting no special hazards such as most rivers, harbors, and lakes, and that is not determined to be exposed waters or partially protected waters by the cognizant OCMI.

OCMI is the officer in charge of marine inspection.


In our practice we have;

Securite: A warning, yet not particularly life-threatening
Pan-pan: An emergency, yet not immediate danger to life
Mayday: A direct threat to life, requiring immediate assistance

In meteorology they have;

Watch: issued when conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area.
Warning: issued when a severe thunderstorm is indicated by radar, requiring immediate safe shelter.

It seems that there is a level of responsiveness missing like;

Alert: an alarm issued to prepare dealing with life threatening danger. A Metrologic Alert could be preceded by a strident two tone signal. If you miss the word Alert, you would certainly not ignore the signal implication!


So they cram more in that are most likely over the weight profile plus baggage.



And then to think the life vests are stowed underneath the canopy. Imaging having to put on these life vests in that already crammed space where everybody is in panic and then try to escape dressed up like that. This is what they call false security.


The NTSB is on record as saying these boats are unsafe:

Ban duck boat tours, says former NTSB chairman after fatal Branson sinking

Former NTSB chairman Jim Hall, who served under President Bill Clinton, said the Thursday sinking on Table Rock Lake seemed eerily similar to a 1999 duck boat incident that killed 13 people in Arkansas. Hall said duck-boat tours are essentially unregulated amusement park rides, a criticism others have leveled because the amphibious vehicles don’t fall neatly into being either a boat or a bus.

Federal officials have warned tourists for nearly 20 years about the dangers posed by amphibious tour boats, which have spotty and sometimes contradictory safety regulations because they are neither entirely boat nor bus. Operators have lengthened some of the boats from their original designs and sometimes have added canopies and see-through vinyl “walls,” allowing them to operate in bad weather.

In the past NTSB made a recommendation that passengers not wear life vest because of the danger of getting trapped under the canopy.

The Coast Guard requires life jackets on boats but leaves it to the vessel’s master to tell passengers when to wear the jackets during hazardous situations. The NTSB has recommended passengers not wear life jackets on boats that have canopies because when the vehicles sink, the life jackets can float passengers into the canopy, preventing escape.


The wounded deer stumbles through the woods bleeding and then drops down dead. I suppose Hall’s statement is the end of the line for the Duck business.


Doesn’t seem right but evidently the two slots in the bow is for engine exhaust.


Here’s another with the exhaust out the deck.



The “surveyor’s” comment got my attention and I looked through a jillion photos and drawings but couldn’t find another DUKW with that exhaust arrangement. Must be a one-off by the local operator. The question is did the engine quit because of downflooding or because of the exhaust … my guess is exhaust location was irrelevant.


Well, it is the shortest route out. Maybe this was done because the passengers enter the Duck over the stern.


From Workboat in 2016 NTSB wants new duck boat weight standards

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is pushing for new weight standards for amphibious passenger vehicles (APV) — commonly called duck boats — after earlier advocating similar changes for passenger vessels because of Americans’ growing girth.


Photos of wartime DUKWs show a short exhaust stack coming out of the cooling air exhaust duct on the starboard side just forward of the windshield. That is close to the location of the units that are modified to use the vertical pipe with the chromed heat shield seen on other versions.
I think that the stock location would probably make the passengers sick with exhaust fumes when the wind is from the starboard side.
The reason I wrote that I don’t think the front exhaust system was a problem is that the favorite redneck transport in the US (a Ford F-150) engine is “rated” for a normal exhaust backpressure of 2 psi which is the equivalent of more than 55 inches of water depth at the outlet. As anyone who has ever clogged a catalytic converter knows, it takes a very high backpressure to stall an engine.


The video plastered all over the news looks like it cuts off just before the doomed duck rolled over on its starboard side. You can see the starboard quarter sinking further and further and a point where the water comes over the window sills. I’d wager this was the point at which it took on too much water to carry on and likely went down very fast.


WaPo has background on how the boats came to be:




Looks like vinyl roll down curtains in this video.

Looks like she went straight down without capsizing too judging by this still shot:


Well count me as corrected. She looked like she was favoring that starboard side but that picture tells a different story