Capsize of a Fletcher 155 speedboat, Torbay 2nd May 2015 resulting in the death of a child

The UK MAIB has recently issued a report on the capsize of a Fletcher speedboat in Torbay on 2nd May 2015 resulting in the tragic death of 14 year old Emily Gardner.

It is to be hoped that the likelihood of guests and crewmembers of large yachts being exposed to the shortcomings of leisure craft constructed before the introduction of the Recreational Craft Directive 1996 are few and far between and that professional seafarers will make a proper assessment of weather, tidal and sea conditions, since these were the primary causes of this tragic accident. There is no saying that had Emily been wearing a correctly fitting buoyancy aid, this would not have occurred, but it must be considered as a shortcoming in safety decision making by the driver. Unfortunately, the driver's decision not to wear a killcord also reflects badly on his attitude to safety, albeit not a direct cause. Relaxed attitudes to killcords remain a mystery. The respected maritime journalist Michael Howorth commented on social media recently, that ‘almost all tender drivers at the 2015 Monaco Yacht Show were not wearing killcords'. This is not about ‘nanny management', but good seamanship and responsibility for the safety of the individual and of others.

For those on board Watkins' managed boats, please ensure that all crewmembers are given an opportunity to read this. Please confirm so in your next HESS meeting minutes. I would also be delighted to hear from any crewmember who would like to explain if they feel they have a sound argument for not wearing killcords whilst in our employment.

I can be contacted at any time if anyone has any questions. We would welcome any feedback of course, and would be pleased to circulate any comments.