Skipper of missing boat “ill-prepared”

David Irvine and Jim Reid finally reach dry land following their ordeal.
David Irvine and Jim Reid finally reach dry land following their ordeal.

The skipper of a fishing boat which was missing at sea for two days after setting off from Gourdon last May “lacked competence”.

That is according to a report published by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, looking at the incident which saw 74 year-old Jim Reid and his grandson, 35 year-old David Irvine, from Inverbervie, become lost due to fog after heading out on a fishing trip on May 20, 2014.

The pair became disorientated and were unable to find their way back to land, eventually finding themselves 44 nautical miles out to sea.

After failing to return home, their vessel, the Water-Rail, was reported missing and a massive air and sea search was launched, involving the Coastguard, Royal Air Force, lifeboats, fishing boats and the Police Scotland helicopter, while anxious friends and relatives waited for news.

After two days, the search was called off, but the next day their small vessel was spotted by the Syliva Bowers, and the pair were rescued and reunited with their families.

The report states: “The investigation found that the skipper of Water-rail did not have the equipment or competence necessary to navigate his vessel safely in the prevailing conditions.

“He was also unable to broadcast a distress message as there was no electronic means of communication on board. The skipper’s grandson had not received any maritime or fishing vessel safety training and was therefore of little help once they became lost.

“A recommendation has been made to the skipper which is designed to provide him with the knowledge and training needed to safely operate a fishing vessel in the future.”

The report added that Mr Reid had failed to properly check shipping forecasts, which had warned of heavy fog. It said: “Had the skipper given due consideration to the expected visibility and the limitations of his equipment, it would have become apparent that proceeding to sea was unsafe. The subsequent decision to press ahead and attempt to cross Bervie Bay, based on a flawed assumption that the fog would dissipate, was ill-judged and almost cost the skipper and his grandson their lives.”

The report also states that the lack of any electronic communication devices on board, particularly a VHF radio, contravened the Code of Practice for the Safety of Small Fishing Vessels, and concludes: “This incident has identified the skipper’s poor safety practices, which resulted in his rapid loss of situational awareness, an unnecessary search and a difficult experience for his family.”