Plain Sailing

Take Care Out There

It’s thankfully been quite a while, but there is, depressingly, another disaster at sea hitting the press this week. As I write, five people – oddly enough, all British nationals – have sadly lost their lives, and an Australian man is missing, after they boarded a Canadian passenger ship for a spot of whale-watching whilst on their holidays.

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I guess it is a sign of how far we’ve come that these sorts of incidents are front-page news – a few decades ago, the happenings of small tour-boats all the way over in Canada would certainly not be considered newsworthy amongst the multitude of other accidents occurring at sea at the time.

Likewise, this incident will be investigated to the nth degree, to find out the exact causes of the over-turning and sinking of the vessel.

The boat itself had done the same trip, twice a day, for nine months of the year, for the last 20 years, and the captain on board has been likewise operating the tour for over 18 years – so this was an experienced team of sailors (though, I hasten to add, this was not a sailing boat).  

Early investigations suggest that it is potentially this experience which also led to arrogance or complacency: they disregarded the incoming inclement weather conditions, with local rip-tides and currents (which local sailors say they deliberately avoided, over-sold tickets on the tour, and didn’t consider the impact that having more passengers than normal all stood on the top deck would affect their boats’ centre of gravity.  

It is also particularly saddening that the holiday-makers were not required to wear life-jackets – a simple thing that could and does save lives.

The one point which these sorts of accidents bring home is that regardless of how many times we’ve done that simple trip from A to B, it’s ALWAYS important to make sure you check the weather, stick to the basic safety precautions (and loads), and to always be vigilant for potential dangers.  There is no place for complacency when you are at sea.