• Disabled Man's Drowning On Adaptive Vessel Avoidable



    World News Reports


    Stephen Hague was on Windermere during a session with Blackwell Sailing Club when a gust of wind capsized the boat.
    The instructor onboard managed to swim to safety but the 57-year-old, from Heversham, became trapped under the hull and was unable to escape given his mobility issues.

    The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) found that a strap used to secure the retractable keel had not been attached at the time of the incident on June 12.
    As the keel was fully retracted it would have been very difficult to right the boat.
    According to MAIB if the velcro strap had been secured those trying to right the boat to rescue Mr Hague would have been able to do so much quicker.
    The MAIB report concluded: "In the windy conditions on the day, the boat was knocked down and heeled to such an extent that the keel slipped in its housing, retracting entirely.
    "During the capsize the assistant instructor was able to swim clear but the disabled crewman became trapped under the inverted hull.
    "The safety boat crew saw the accident and attended the scene quickly, but had difficulty righting the boat and so were unable to reach the crewman in sufficient time to effect a successful rescue."
    The MAIB's findings do not preclude or preempt any legal proceedings.
    Joff McGill, RYA Sailability Manager, said: “We are all deeply saddened by the loss of Stephen Hague.
    "Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Stephen’s family and friends, and all the Sailability volunteers at Blackwell Sailing.
    “We will work closely with our partners in the boating industry to highlight the importance of securing retractable keels and centreboards while sailing boats are in use.
    "We also strongly recommend that procedures and drills for recovering a capsized boat include the scenario where the keel or centreboard has retracted from its lowered position.”


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    BACKGROUND
    The MAIB is undertaking a preliminary assessment of the circumstances that led to the capsize of an
    RS Venture Connect sailing boat on Windermere, resulting in the death of a disabled crewman. The
    boat was manufactured by RS Sailing and was being operated by Blackwell Sailing as part of its RYA
    Sailability activity. Sailability is the RYA’s national programme promoting and supporting people with
    disabilities to try sailing and to take part regularly.

    At the time of the accident, there were two crew on board the boat, an assistant instructor and an
    experienced crewman who had limited mobility.
    The subject of this safety bulletin is the securing of retractable keels and retractable weighted
    centreboards while the sailing boats are in use.



    INITIAL FINDINGS
    The sailing boat in use was an RS Venture Connect, a self-righting keelboat version of the RS Venture,
    built in 2016. It was fitted with a 125kg lead bulb vertical retractable keel that afforded additional stability
    and could be raised to facilitate recovery from the water and transportation.
    The post-accident inspection of the boat, together with photographic evidence from the day, has
    identified that the restraining device for the keel, a Velcro™ strap, designed to secure the keel in the
    lowered position, was not in place (Figure 1).




    In the windy conditions on the day, the boat was knocked down and heeled to such an extent that the
    keel slipped in its housing, retracting entirely. Figure 2 shows the boat fully inverted with the lead bulb
    keel fully deployed, with an inset showing the boat inverted and the keel retracted. During the capsize the
    assistant instructor was able to swim clear but the disabled crewman became trapped under the inverted
    hull. The safety boat crew saw the accident and attended the scene quickly, but had difficulty righting the
    boat and so were unable to reach the crewman in sufficient time to effect a successful rescue.
    The importance of securing the retractable keel was highlighted in the manufacturer’s rigging guide for
    the boat (Figure 3). However, this accident demonstrates that some users may not be aware of how
    critical this is.




    ACTION TAKEN
    RS Sailing has contacted all registered owners of RS Venture Connect boats, reiterating the instructions
    regarding the importance of ensuring the keel securing strap is correctly fitted prior to use.




    SAFETY LESSON
    To prevent a similar accident, owners and operators of boats with either a retractable keel or retractable
    weighted centreboard, regardless of make or model, are recommended to ensure that:
    ●●Prior to use, checks should be made to ensure the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the
    securing of the keel or weighted centreboard have been followed.
    ●●Their procedures and drills for recovering a capsized boat include the scenario where the keel or
    centreboard has retracted from its ‘lowered’ position.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/s...2019-published