Commuter boats collide!




Laura


Massachusetts
 

On July 10, 2007, there was a head-on collision in heavy fog between 2 commuter boats, the Massachusetts and the Laura.   I was a passenger on the Massachusetts and here is my story.

I was on my normal morning commute, taking the 6:50am boat from Hingham to Boston, on a very foggy day. I was sitting on the port (left) side of the boat, next to the front exit door, which is located about 20 feet from the bow. By the time we approached the Long Island bridge (sadly, now demolished) the visibility had decreased to about 10-15 feet and the Massachusetts had to make a last minute adjustment in its course to get aligned with the opening under the bridge, but I have experienced this in foggy weather before so I was not concerned. Not too long after we passed under the bridge I looked out the window and saw a man in a small motor boat who had just passed in front of our boat. I exclaimed to my companion, "Look! We almost hit that guy!" Immediately after this we were alarmed to see out the front windows of our boat that the Laura, another commuter boat, was coming directly at us. In less than 10 seconds the Laura's hull came smashing through the front windows and things were crashing all over the place (someone remarked later that you could reach out and touch the name Laura on its hull at this point). Due to the fog I don't think either boat was moving very fast, but they are just so massive that there was no way to prevent the collision. The Massachusetts stopped very abruptly, and several people ended up on the floor. As soon as we had our wits about us we were all asking around if everybody was OK. I guess we must have all been shouting prior to the impact because the people sitting near those windows had jumped out of the way just in time and nobody was hurt except for some scrapes and cuts. There are several Coast Guard people who commute regularly on the boat (out of uniform) and they assumed leadership roles. We dawned life jackets that are kept under the seats (we knew where to find them from the safety announcement we hear every time the boat departs—never thinking we would need them). We all got out our cellphones and starting calling people (I called my wife Patti and also a colleague riding the subway on his way to work). The damage to the boat was far enough above the waterline that apparently the boat was judged to be seaworthy, and after things settled down the boat was able to continue to Boston and dock. As soon as we walked up the gangway to Rowes Wharf we all paused to look at the outside of the boat for the first time, and everybody was taking photos with their cellphones of the damage to the boat. I went to work for a somewhat normal day, and on my return trip to Hingham in the evening, when I got off the boat (a different boat!) I was interviewed by one of the TV stations (Channel 7) but I didn't see myself on the news, although I did see interviews with others from the Massachusetts on TV.

I have taken the boat since 1983 and there have been very few incidents of any kind, so it is still the best way to commute from the South Shore (see photos of a normal trip). I'll bet those people who like to sit in the very front of the Massachusetts will be moving further back if they continue with the boat commute!

 

Videos and photos

  The first photo was taken by my friend with her cellphone camera when we got off the boat (note the fog). The photos do not do justice to the violence that occurred when these two multi-ton vessels smashed into each other. Look at the Massachusetts interior video to see what it looked like to us on the boat after the collision. It is totally amazing that nobody got seriously injured!

WBZ News coverage
WBZ News coverage
WCVB News coverage
Massachusetts & Laura exteriors (WBZ)
Massachusetts interior (WBZ)
Boston.com coverage