"Mid Size Power Boats": A Guide for Discreminating Buyers - by David Pascoe

The EL TORO Tragedy

An Independent Review of
the Coast Guard Investigation Report

by David H. Pascoe, Marine Surveyor


On December 5, 1993 the party fishing vessel EL TORO II sprung three planks and sank 5 miles south of Point Lookout on the Chesapeake Bay. There were 23 passengers aboard and three died in the incident, mainly due to exposure to the cold bay waters. 

The EL TORO is a story of particular interest to marine surveyors that reveals some hard-learned lessons. EL TORO was a Coast Guard certified passenger carrying vessel that had just undergone its drydock inspection on March 23, 1993, little more than 8 months prior. In addition, an insurance survey was completed just 5 days before the loss of the EL TORO. Both of these are factors which will come into play, as we shall soon see, that provide some very important lessons for surveyors. 

This review is based solely upon the U.S.C.G. investigation report dated 29 July, 1994 and subsequently published on the Internet. The report runs 34 pages in length and will only be excerpted here, not be reproduced in whole. It is available on the U.S.C.G web site for anyone interested at http://www.uscg.mil/hq/gm/moa/boards/eltoroII.pdf (*). This review is intended solely for the purpose of analysis of a tragedy and how marine surveyors may learn from it and better perform their services. This writer recognizes that he does not have all the facts, and that any criticism herein is based solely on the published report. This is not a complete investigation of the incident and should not be interpreted as such. 

The names of the participants have been changed to protect their identities. 


  • Introduction
  • PART I - Incident
  • PART II - Coast Guard analysis
  • PART III - CG Conclusions of the Investigation
  • PART IV - Lessons to be Learned: The Surveyor's Role

(*)The pdf file address is updated - May 2, 2015.

First posted 5/11/97 at David Pascoe's site www.yachtsurvey.com
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About Author:
David H. Pascoe is a marine surveyor (retired) with 40 years' experience.

He is author and publisher of power boat books:

"Mid Size Power Boats"
"Surveying Fiberglass Power Boats" 2E
"Buyers' Guide to Outboard Boats"
"Marine Investigations"

Visit  yachtsurvey.com  for more than 160 online articles.

David Pascoe's biography

Page last updated May 2, 2015.
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