Back in 2007 a Panama City, Florida man strayed from the channel in a brand new sportfish boat while headed to the Orange Beach Classic. He sunk after hitting submerged rocks.
While trying to turn into Perdido Pass, Capt. James Cooper misjudged the turn, and reportedly drove the boat over the rock jetties at more than 30 knots.
The like new Weaver 61ft boat made it over the rock jetties, but tore a gash in the hull, and then it sank in 7 feet of water.
The boat was like new and valued at over $2.5 million. The boat was owned by Alabama Businessman John Harper.
Instead of coming in through the mouth of the inlet, Cooper mistook a weir, a submerged wall of steel-reinforced concrete and rocks that lets sand pass over it into a collection basin inside the pass, for open water.
He hit the submerged wall and tore open the hull, ripped out the transmission, and ruined the port engine. He attempted to get to safety using the starboard engine, but the boat didn’t make it, sinking in minutes.
Similar to navigating Haulover Inlet, Perdido Pass is difficult to navigate and boaters need to be aware of the conditions and their position. Boating while intoxicated obviously was the big mistake here. Cooper was charged with BWI.
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