Tour boat captain suspended after close call with rowers


(PORTLAND, Ore.) — A tour boat didn't have the right of way when its captain forced rowers to evade the vessel during a Willamette River race last month, a Coast Guard official said Tuesday, and the mariner has been suspended by the company, The Oregonian reported.

Capt. Lowell Gillespie Jr. could have waited for the rowers in the race to pass, crossed behind them or, if they weren't so close, continued in front of them, said Coast Guard marine investigator Travis Nolen. Gillespie maintained the vessel's course and speed, Nolen said, and the rowers changed their course to avoid a collision.

Company President Dan Yates said Gillespie "made a very poor decision" in the Oct. 29 encounter near the Marquam Bridge and that he was suspending Gillespie for 90 days. That decision is independent of the Coast Guard investigation, which is ongoing.

Gillespie was previously disciplined for running into other boats on the Willamette during the Red Bull Flugtag competition in 2015.

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By Professional Mariner Staff