Some of you have already read about this incident, but please read through this and see if you can provide some good input.
On the last weekend in January, up to a thousand boats take part in the Auckland Anniversary day regatta, including some of the most modern sailboats afloat along with a beautiful fleet of true classics. Several race courses are laid out in the inner and outer harbor area. This year was no different. But unfortunately one terrible incident has raised serious questions.
On a bright, sunny, light wind day. It was estimated there were up to 10,000 pleasure boats of all descriptions on the harbor that day. The owner of a 60 foot yacht was returning home from his holidays. He was at the helm, inside a hard dodger; a woman friend was on board in the cabin or cockpit area. They were under power. Stored on the foredeck of the boat was a large hard bottomed inflatable. The course he chose to steer was directly through a fleet of sailboats which had just crossed the start line of the race. His speed, according to observers, was between 7 to 10 knots (the harbor speed limit is 10 knots but New Zealand maritime law says that within 50 meters of another vessel you must reduce speed to 5 knots).
Unfortunately, one fleet of classic boats had just gone across the starting line. Gypsy, a 70 year old 34 foot classic sloop was close hauled on starboard, carrying a genoa and full mainsail. The owner and crew heard shouting just seconds before they were rammed by the 60 footer. The impact was so great the boat sank instantly. The crew, Jill Hetherington suffered a near drowning, a pelvis fracture, massive bruising and has taken two months to recover enough to walk without crutches. The skipper of Gypsy, John Pryor was not injured but like Jill, lost many personal possessions besides his boat (wallet, computer, cellphone etc.) The owner of the powering sailboat stated, “I simply didn’t see them.”
Gypsy was lifted from the harbor floor and now sits in a storage shed. Insurance coverage will only pay the insured sum which is about one fifth the cost of restoring this classic boat – the last designed by Arch Logan one of the most famous New Zealand designers.
The Auckland Harbor master fined the owner of the larger vessel $200 for breach of right-of-way rules.
Reason for this post – Many of us down here are hoping to encourage the Maritime Safety Board to instigate an inquiry into this event as they have more power than the harbor board. Not only would a ruling by this board carry more weight to help John Pryor work toward a fairer settlement with the other boat owners insurance company, it would help remind everyone of the importance of keeping a very good lookout (a person on the foredeck on boats with any obstructions to their vision in crowded conditions), respecting race start lines and going around them, etc.. I am working to gather information to present to the director of the maritime board.
My question for forum members – how would this type of incident be handled in your home port. I.e. if an incident like this happened in say, Newport Beach or Newport Rhode Island, what would be the consequence for the give way boat? If anyone can point me to a website laying out penalties or a legal precedent, it would be appreciated.
If you want to read more details of the incident you can click on any of these links: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz-herald-...ectid=10782311