Our hearts go out to all those affected during the recent Branson duck boat tragedy. We respect our guests concerns, but wish to educate consumers on the extensive differences in hull and operations between Maine Duck Tours and DUKWs involved in tragedies over the years.
In the event of unsafe weather conditions, Maine Duck Tours does not hesitate to cancel tours and our experienced US Coast Guard Master Captains reserve this right at any time. In the event Maine Duck Tours cancels for any reason, we do provide rebooking options or full refund on the day of the tour.
Maine’s only duck tour company made the conscious decision to put safety first back in 2004 with the building of the amphibious vehicle, BUFFLEHEAD. This vehicle/vessel is very different from the WWII-era DUKW boats that have been involved in tragic accidents. The BUFFLEHEAD, has a watertight, flush deck hull which is very different from the open hulls of the DUKWs prone to flooding. At our annual 2018 USCG hull inspection our experienced inspector highlighted the features our amphibious vehicle/vessel possesses over others in operation, stating, “if you purchase another one, build it just like this one.”
Maine Duck Tour’s strict safety procedures and operational parameters prohibits BUFFLEHEAD from getting underway in dangerous weather. In the unlikely chance of an unpredicted and sudden storm catches the BUFFLEHEAD in rough seas, the BUFFLEHEAD’s hull will not fill up with water as it appears the DUKW did recently in Branson, Missouri, and has been the case in other DUKW water tragedies. Due to its modern design, water would be shed from the decks through scuppers over the side instead of filling in the bilge below.
In the case of emergency, BUFFLEHEAD is equipped with more than enough overhead personal floatation devices for each passenger, immediately accessible overhead, and our Captain’s hold a USCG 100 ton Master’s Captains license (at least 720 days at sea and extensive coursework), trained for making emergency decisions. In comparison, amphibious “duck boat” operators on fresh water are only required to carry a USCG Limited Masters “launch” License (minimum 120 days with like vessels and a weekend course).
Since the Branson tragedy, Maine Duck Tours has completed a safety stand down and comprehensive review of all of our safety procedures, met with our local USCG Captain of Port and Inspectors to assure proactive procedures are in place. We will continue to work with our member associations to learn from any lessons gleaned from the investigation into this accident. Finally, we will continue to strive as a company to provide the most safe and enjoyable tours in the amphibious tour vessel industry.
We thank you for choosing us as your Portland Land and Sea Adventure and look forward to hosting you!