“...their cardinal sin appears to have been not staying with the boat. Hard to know why even at 14 they didnt know to do that?”
From what I’ve learned that was likely not possible. They went into a thunderstorm in an open-bow, low freeboard vessel. Their vessel swamped, rolled and broke. They apparently did not even have the opportunity, or foresight, to don their life jackets.
Their cardinal sin was going into a strong thunderstorm in a low-freeboard, open boat ensuring they’d be swamped. That is suicide in my book.
FL thunderstorms can be quite violent with 7’+ chop and gale force winds. Without a cabin a swamped vessel in such conditions is lethal to anyone around it. Keyword: swamped. A swamped boat is a totally different animal.