Safety of Drascombe Lugger boat questioned in drowning report

Marine Casualty Investigation Board look into death of sailor in west Cork

A Drascombe Lugger Roamer. Retired English schoolteacher Douglas Perrin died after his 6m Drascombe Lugger sailing vessel capsized off Schull, Co Cork last August. File photograph: Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Drascombe_Lugger_Roamer_Starboard_tack.jpg)

A Drascombe Lugger Roamer. Retired English schoolteacher Douglas Perrin died after his 6m Drascombe Lugger sailing vessel capsized off Schull, Co Cork last August. File photograph: Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Drascombe_Lugger_Roamer_Starboard_tack.jpg)

 

Questions about the safety of a type of coastal sailing vessel have been raised by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) in a report into the death of a 66-year-old sailor off west Cork last summer.

Retired English schoolteacher Douglas Perrin died after his 6m Drascombe Lugger sailing vessel capsized off Schull, Co Cork last August.

Mr Perrin, who also taught sailing and was described at an inquest to have been extremely safety conscious, had taken two friends with limited sailing experience on a trip to Castle Island when the incident occurred.

The MCIB said that although the skipper/owner was a “competent and experienced sailor and was familiar with the vessel, the inexperienced guests were taking turns on the helm and one of them was in control when the vessel gybed unintentionally and broached, leading to the capsize”.

The report described how the vessel turned “turtle” very quickly and the centre plate or centreboard, which acts as a keel, fell back into its casing. This made it almost impossible for those in the water to try to right the boat.

All three were wearing lifejackets, but there was no VHF radio, emergency position indicating radio beacon or other form of emergency equipment on board. One of the survivors tried to attract attention by standing on the upturned hull but to no avail.

The visitors, Marian Browne from Oxford and Patrick Anwyl from London,were able to swim to Castle Island,where they were eventually rescued, but Mr Perrin was wearing only light summer clothing and lost consciousness quite quickly.

Inquest

An inquest this year found Mr Perrin died of acute cardiac failure due to drowning and hypothermia was “almost certainly” a factor, according to Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster.

The MCIB recommends that the manufacturers of the Drascombe Lugger investigate the feasibility of installing a system whereby the centreboard can be retained in the deployed position, so that it will remain extended in the event of a capsize.

It says it “should be possible to retrofit this mechanism to existing vessels”.

It also recommends that the Drascombe Luggers’ Association highlight how this type of vessel can capsize under certain conditions, and that it initiates a campaign to raise awareness about the need to upgrade inbuilt buoyancy to approved standards.

It says owners and operators of recreational craft should be aware of and follow the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport’s Code of Practice for the Safe Operation of Recreational Craft.