Maritmie NZ cape brett

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    Posted: 03 Nov 2023 at 6:53pm
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www.maritimenz.govt.nz/content/commercial/safety/accidents-reporting/accident-reports/autopilot-for-navigation.asp

In December 2022, a 5.5 m recreational aluminium power boat with four people on board capsized about 10 nautical miles off Cape Brett, Northland. The boat was returning from a day’s fishing as the sun was beginning to set. It was travelling at about 7 knots with lures out, in a 1.5–2 m swell.

The boat was on autopilot, which was set on the lowest responsive setting. As it reached the bottom of a swell, it suddenly turned hard to starboard, broaching and capsizing in a matter of seconds after water came over the port gunnel. All of the crew surfaced, although one crew member was briefly trapped under the hull.

The EPIRB self-activated in the water, and a crew member was able to retrieve it from under the hull so the strobe light could be seen. A local vessel rescued the crew, who were clinging on to the upturned hull, about 90 minutes later. By the time they were rescued, it was dark and there was a 23 m swell with 20 knot winds.

Following the investigation, the skipper was prosecuted and fined under the Maritime Transport Act 1994.

 The crew, including the skipper, had been drinking beer during the trip. Drinking alcohol increases the risk to safety, especially in an emergency, because it is a sedative and impairs decision-making, coordination and reflexes. In the water, an intoxicated person is more susceptible to hypothermia.

Ballast

The ballast chamber was open, meaning the ballast chamber was not retaining water. A full ballast chamber would have made the boat more stable and less likely to capsize, especially in a following sea.

None of the crew were wearing Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) during the day or at the time the boat capsized, although they were available on board. Wearing PFDs was required by:

  • Maritime Rule 91.4(6), which requires PFDs to be worn on recreational craft in situations of heightened risk (for example, the distance the boat was from shore, the swell size, running with a following sea, alcohol consumption, and the empty ballast), and
  • Northland Regional Council Bylaw 2.1.3, which requires lifejackets to be worn at all times on boats 6 m or less in length.

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Post Options Post Options   Likes (1) Likes(1)   Quote JustAnotherSpearo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Nov 2023 at 8:00pm
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Probably the wrong thing to think given the seriousness of that situation but a 5.5m boat with autopilot?? Am I missing something or does that seem absurd to others too
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Originally posted by JustAnotherSpearo JustAnotherSpearo wrote:

Probably the wrong thing to think given the seriousness of that situation but a 5.5m boat with autopilot?? Am I missing something or does that seem absurd to others too
Ok by me. Very nice to have if game fishing. Just too expensive for me. 
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Marligator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Nov 2023 at 7:10am
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This is a very interesting case and just shows how careful you have to be with a following sea when the swell and wind gets up.

"Northland Regional Council Bylaw 2.1.3, which requires lifejackets to be worn at all times on boats 6 m or less in length."

If you were to follow this rule to the exact wording if your boat was under 6m you would not be allowed to go spearfishing, snorkeling or swimming unless you were wearing a lifejacket the whole time until you were in the water and then took it off, plus would also have to put it back on when in the water again before hopping back into the boat otherwise at some stage you are not wearing a lifejacket. If you were scuba diving you would have to be suited up and fully kitted out the whole time you were on the boat (assuming that they would allow a BC to be used as a lifejacket which they may not under the regs) otherwise at some stage you have to have no lifejacket on. I know this is not the intent of the rule, but if somehow something went wrong the Fun Police would be trying to prosecute someone.
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Originally posted by JustAnotherSpearo JustAnotherSpearo wrote:

Probably the wrong thing to think given the seriousness of that situation but a 5.5m boat with autopilot?? Am I missing something or does that seem absurd to others too

Probably more common that you think, these days autopilots can be quite cheaply added to a lot of GPS units if your boat has hydraulic steering.  Very useful if game fishing all day and wanting to just follow a pattern.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Alan L Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Nov 2023 at 4:35pm
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Originally posted by Marligator Marligator wrote:

This is a very interesting case and just shows how careful you have to be with a following sea when the swell and wind gets up.

"Northland Regional Council Bylaw 2.1.3, which requires lifejackets to be worn at all times on boats 6 m or less in length."

If you were to follow this rule to the exact wording if your boat was under 6m you would not be allowed to go spearfishing, snorkeling or swimming unless you were wearing a lifejacket the whole time until you were in the water and then took it off, plus would also have to put it back on when in the water again before hopping back into the boat otherwise at some stage you are not wearing a lifejacket. If you were scuba diving you would have to be suited up and fully kitted out the whole time you were on the boat (assuming that they would allow a BC to be used as a lifejacket which they may not under the regs) otherwise at some stage you have to have no lifejacket on. I know this is not the intent of the rule, but if somehow something went wrong the Fun Police would be trying to prosecute someone.
Yes and I have a mate with a 12' tinnie, and he nearly went over the side with a cray pot once. The strap/buckle on his vest caught in the pot as he chucked it over. Close.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (2) Likes(2)   Quote waynorth Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Nov 2023 at 7:12pm
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We don't know the details of this one, but my initial reaction is that it is MNZ going in after the battle has been lost and bayonetting the survivors.

Having a beer at sea is not illegal. We don't know if these guys were drunk - maybe they were breathalyzed - but apart from perhaps being over confident in their autopilot, how is consumption of alcohol a situation of heightened risk ? It's not even specifically referred to in 91.4(6), which MNZ appears to have based it's prosecution on.

The ballast issue being a contributing factor is puzzling. A few boats have ballast chambers now - some (Surtees) have a closing flap, others (Extreme) don't. Regardless, these guys were doing 7 knots - displacement speed - so the ballast chamber being open was irrelevant. It would have been full.

A swell of 1.5-2m is very different from a sea of that height. It sounds like there was a bit of wind around, so the sea may well have been sloppy, but the report says 'swell'. I've towed a sea biscuit in a 2m swell off Cape Brett - period was probably 15s so we hardly even knew there was a swell there. Again, we don't know the details, and these guys did broach & flip their boat, but 5.5m boats go out game fishing in a 2m swell most weekends during summer. 

They were (just) inside coastal waters and under the jurisdiction of the NRC, so the failure to wear lifejackets on a 5.5m boat is a mea culpa, but MNZ prosecuted a breach of the Maritime rules, not NRC rules. Incidentally @Marligator, there are a bunch of exceptions to the NRC's compulsory wearing of lifejackets in sub-6m boats, which cover most of your comments above.

It sounds to me like this skipper was mostly guilty of a lack of experience, in both his autopilot setup & limitations, and sea conditions. Him & a few thousand other boaties out there most weekends, but he was made an example of by MNZ. Their prosecution of this case is reactive. A proactive response would be compulsory training for boat users, which I have always been in favour of. Perhaps it's time.      
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Mc Tool Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Nov 2023 at 8:27am
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I would like to add that life jackets should be sold fitted ,maybe not permanently, with a crutch strap ( I have seen them on kid sized  life jackets ). Im a biggish guy ( 6' 125kg ) and I taper the wrong way to keep a life jacket on in the water ,even with the waist strap done up , it rides up on me in the boat  and if I lift my arms up in the water  it either slides right off or semi pins my arms . I find it cumbersome and I dont wear it in the boat whilst anchored or drifting , I do put it on as soon as we are under way. I can mitigate this a bit  as my standard for going  fishing is that if I couldn't waterski  ( I dont any more ) I probly wouldnt go out ( Mrs is chicken ****  too ).I can swim well  , competitively as a teen, and am confident in the water . TBH my biggest worry is having a "medical event" ( yeah , I got issues LOL ) and thusly I dont get in the water  as there is no way the Mrs would be able to get me back in the boat , Ha  we have an agreement that if such an occasion did arise ( still like Paua )she is to attach a rope around my shoulders and drag me back to shore ........she says she would need the body to claim insurance LOL.
 If you dont have a mentor to teach you the ropes  do a course ( peeps have died simply because they were unaware of the hazards that took them ) . Fishing is fun but it aint worth dying for a feed 
I wish I was young again .... Id be heaps smarter than this time
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Pcj Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Nov 2023 at 8:58am
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Originally posted by Mc Tool Mc Tool wrote:

I would like to add that life jackets should be sold fitted ,maybe not permanently, with a crutch strap ( I have seen them on kid sized  life jackets ). Im a biggish guy ( 6' 125kg ) and I taper the wrong way to keep a life jacket on in the water ,even with the waist strap done up , it rides up on me in the boat  and if I lift my arms up in the water  it either slides right off or semi pins my arms . I find it cumbersome and I dont wear it in the boat whilst anchored or drifting , I do put it on as soon as we are under way. I can mitigate this a bit  as my standard for going  fishing is that if I couldn't waterski  ( I dont any more ) I probly wouldnt go out ( Mrs is chicken ****  too ).I can swim well  , competitively as a teen, and am confident in the water . TBH my biggest worry is having a "medical event" ( yeah , I got issues LOL ) and thusly I dont get in the water  as there is no way the Mrs would be able to get me back in the boat , Ha  we have an agreement that if such an occasion did arise ( still like Paua )she is to attach a rope around my shoulders and drag me back to shore ........she says she would need the body to claim insurance LOL.
 If you dont have a mentor to teach you the ropes  do a course ( peeps have died simply because they were unaware of the hazards that took them ) . Fishing is fun but it aint worth dying for a feed 
New Hutchwilcos come with croth straps,got mine at this Yrs boat show and bonus was the owner being there and asked me what I do etc and he said this is what I reccomend. Solid type with crotch strap
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Marligator Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Nov 2023 at 9:41pm
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Thanks Waynorth, good to know the NRC have exceptions in the wording to take account of these scenarios.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote brmbrm Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Nov 2023 at 10:56am
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Doesn't seem to say what the prosecution was for - just the PFDs?  If alcohol there would need to be proof the skipper was over the limit.

The other things are to be aware of - alcohol does dull the senses (thats why I drink it :)), auto-pilot in small boat and big sea a risk, close the ballast door helps etc etc, but the last two woldn't seem to be prosecutable.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (3) Likes(3)   Quote shaneg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Nov 2023 at 9:34pm
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I was out that day in same area and helped young fella land a big yft that afternoon transferring myself to his boat, with wife helming my boat. We came into bland bay about 5.30pm.  Sea conditions deteriorated materially on way in.
Got nasty, remember another stabi coming in at bland bay after us having difficulty in retrieving… as in a guy almost got crushed under boat. 
We saw Michael Hills super yacht going up coast few miles off bland bay before we came in.  Was their tender, big RIB I believe that performed the rescue later in dark. Lucky they we’re in area as would been professional crew.
Sea conditions deteriorated rapidly, guys (skipper and brother) in the boat sunk are experienced boaties and game fishermen.  Being on auto pilot though when should been on helm and coming in was due to combination of not knowing limitations of their new auto pilot and staying out trolling too long in worsening conditions.
Drinking beer while fishing (we do it all the time) is not unusual but may been a factor in judgement.
Was a hot marlin bite up there that day but sea conditions changed rapidly, as that coast is prone to dish up sooner or later.
Bloody lucky set epirb off and got rescued otherwise would been all dead by morning.

Few learnings: 
1) Don’t  use auto pilots ( I don’t have one) on small boats in rougher seas… stay on helm, keeping weight distribution centre.
2) Possibly wouldn’t have capsized if it had been a pontoon boat.
3). When sea conditions deteriorate even if marlin are about,  keep your wits about you and head in to safety. Ironically closer to shore you get up there in any sort of swell usually worse it gets, as shallows up.

I fish out of small stabicraft 16 ft. I need to have my wits about me and play safe when offshore fishing. Have over 30yrs experience boating in smaller boats on exposed coasts, around 20 yrs offshore game fishing, and have an ILM and charter skipper experience.
No one is infallible and the sea usually takes no prisoners.
No marlin or other fish is worth risking life and limb for.
It can turn to custard in a few seconds… but usually in hindsight there is a lead up up to that.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (2) Likes(2)   Quote Alan L Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Nov 2023 at 10:25pm
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Well Shaneg I gave you a like - because I like what you posted - and usually do.
I just want to discuss this bit
"Drinking beer while fishing (we do it all the time) is not unusual but may been a factor in judgement."
Don't get me wrong - I am no prude, and I am not poking fingers - esp at you.
But it is an interesting point. I have blokes down our way - beach launch in some challenging stuff, and the standing joke is they will come home when the beer runs out. I kid you not. And we roll a boat or two every year. But not theirs - yet. But they did get swamped a few days ago.
I simply never drink (alc) on the boat. having said that, if my crew wanted to I prob wouldn't say No. But they don't either. Gamefishing, I might have more of a view. So many things to go wrong - do I need to elaborate - prob not. For me, I want me and my crew to have their and my wits about.
I don't care how much they (or me) drink when we get back. But we also have a surf to get thru when we get home.
Don't get me wrong - not pointing a finger. I can think of why it might be good to have a beer with mates on a good day out. I am just curious as to how common it may be. Pleased you can mention it. interesting point.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (2) Likes(2)   Quote shaneg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Nov 2023 at 10:44pm
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Yes Alan , I drink on my boat but less so if going wide and fully focused,  and never on kayak, and in boat in recent years would think never enough that it would be enough to affect my judgement. 
However point taken … wife often consumes a bottle of wine over course of afternoon out there. She could fall overboard and I might not notice while I have a few beers.
You are probably going to regret not being sober if you need to have all your senses in an emergency, or one caused by being impaired.
So answer is probably best practise is to leave drinking onshore for your return , or take low or no alcohol beers of which there are some really good ones now.
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And I am not pointing any fingers at you. I am interested tho in what others attitudes to the topic are.
How common would it be, and what protocols would they follow.
As I said earlier, I have a couple of mates who will come home when the beer runs out. Basically we measure the success of their day by the number of fish in the bin vs number of empty steinies, because that is what determines the end of their day usually.
Hadn't thought of low Alc beers, but that must be a decent option. The ones I have tried lately are def in the OK category.  Have to be a decent option on a hot day while waiting for a fish to bite.
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Originally posted by shaneg shaneg wrote:

Yes Alan , I drink on my boat but less so if going wide and fully focused,  and never on kayak, and in boat in recent years would think never enough that it would be enough to affect my judgement. 
However point taken … wife often consumes a bottle of wine over course of afternoon out there. She could fall overboard and I might not notice while I have a few beers.
You are probably going to regret not being sober if you need to have all your senses in an emergency, or one caused by being impaired.
So answer is probably best practise is to leave drinking onshore for your return , or take low or no alcohol beers of which there are some really good ones now.
Just wait till they do breathe testing like Aussie does.Yes consumption to be limited.Not because of the ability to navigaete but the bloody drive home.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Alan L Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Nov 2023 at 7:58pm
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Thats assuming there is a drive home. In our case, not.
So some perspective on it. My other mates are prob at the far end of the booze/boat spectrum. I have known them for decades and never been any different. I am at the other end - not because I have a total dislike or aversion to it, it just doesn't do it for me. i would prob be crook or knackered by the end of the day.
But my other mates are the opposite. We fish together a lot - sharing intel, spot Xs etc - known each other for decades. So we can pull up alongside them at 9am, and if the rods are over the side, the steinies are in the cupholders. They may fish til 3pm somedays like that. Eventually the beer will run out, and they will come home. They have done this thousands of times - it is how they fish. Not passing any judgement on them - their boat, grown men etc.
So they must be at one end of the spectrum and me at the other. I just wonder how common it is to drink while fishing. Most if not all the others I know, do not.
I am sure if there was a Coroners enquiry or a Maritime investigation in to what went wrong with these blokes, the alcohol would get the blame. But they have done it so often for so long it is likely there would have been a mitigating factor. 
Yes - they would have probs in Aus. Real probs.
But as Shaneg referred to earlier, low Alc beers are getting better. If I have it right there is a Speights Summit, zero alc beer. Correct me if wrong. Had some in the fridge over summer. Son used to call up for a beer or two after work on a hot day and wanted this. The odd time I had no cold beer in fridge and cracked one. More than half decent. Much better than no cold beer.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote shaneg Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Nov 2023 at 10:18pm
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Simon aka Sambosi you could probably also provide some perspective here, on how to drink responsibly over long days game fishing.
 Pay to read above before you start posting. But always found you an able skipper who manages consumption responsibly for whole crew while offshore. May have something to do with so much beer on board that we will not run out or cannot drink it all, so has the cathartic effect of most crew drinking not much. You are a bit of a role model in my eyes.
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Post Options Post Options   Likes (0) Likes(0)   Quote Phantom Menace Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Nov 2023 at 2:54pm
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Interesting thread.  I generally don't drink while out fishing (but have been known to have a couple of beers on some days out when I am not skipper Smile).  That's likely because I will sometimes jump in the water with the speargun.

Also, one day when we were helping get people off a boat that had hit a rock (and was taking on water) and transfer them over to the police launch I recall seeing the state some were in ... they had kept drinking while waiting for help to arrive.  It was a middling day as far as the sea state was concerned so not the easiest to deal with but seeing how some really struggled brought home the impact of alcohol to me (and that was just getting from one boat to another - never mind being in charge of a boat or being in the water).

On another note: just got back from a holiday in Rarotonga last night.  I booked a charter boat to go out game fishing.  We had a marlin hit two of the lures but not get hooked up.  That was enough to get me thinking about buying some game gear and giving it a crack so anybody with pointers for a newbie - drop me a message (I would say I am relatively competent on the boating side of things but pretty uneducated as far as game fishing gear goes).
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Also - yes, PFDs need crotch straps Smile.

I've tried with and without in the water and there is a big difference.
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