Hillsborough, Somerset County, and Central New Jersey - News from Yesterday, Today
08 July 2010
Ride the Ducks
I know of only one way to get a seven-year-old and a four-year-old to willingly board a sightseeing tour bus - tell them it turns into a boat. In cities like Boston, Baltimore, and Philadelphia, you'd be telling the truth! The tragic collision this week of a duck boat with a barge in the Delaware River brought back memories of my own experience with the Philadelphia "Ride the Ducks" tour in 2006.
Before climbing aboard the amphibious craft, everyone receives a duck-billed noisemaker. The kids loved it - but the sound of thirty-seven quackers sounding nearly non-stop for the duration of the trip can only be compared to the noise level in a Johannesburg soccer stadium during the World Cup.
The first part of the tour takes place on the streets of Philadelphia, where you will see such historic sights as this gigantic image of Philadelphia native Larry Fine playing the fiddle....
.... and Alfreth's Alley - the longest continuously occupied residential street in the city.
Then it's out onto the water, where you will get a close-up view of the old Municipal Pier, and the Ben Franklin Bridge.
The accident in which two tourists were drowned appears to be just that - an accident. As long as maintenance records for the two vessels involved come up clean, I can't see how blame can be properly assigned. A boat that becomes disabled on the water - in the channel - is at risk for being hit by another craft. It's really as simple as that.
One observation I will make is that the duck boats ride very low in the water. It's almost like being out there in a canoe or kayak. This probably has nothing to do with how seaworthy the boats are, but I could see how, after this accident, tourists might feel a bit squeamish about being right down there IN the Delaware.