Skipper convicted over Anzac Day boating tragedy
The conviction of an Auckland boatie who failed to check his craft was seaworthy before embarking on an ill-fated family boating trip highlights the need for all skippers to conduct pre-launch safety checks, says Maritime New Zealand (MNZ).
Following a detailed investigation into the tragic 25 April 2007 accident, MNZ charged Waiheke resident Lindsay Terrence Rowles in November 2007 with operating a vessel “in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk” under the Maritime Transport Act, after his two children, Erina (8) and Travis (5), drowned when their boat sank near Shag Island in the Hauraki Gulf. The boat had been bought just one day before the trip.
Among concerns highlighted during MNZ’s investigation was the skipper’s failure to conduct basic pre-launch safety checks, poor knowledge of the operation of the vessel, consumption of alcohol and a general lack of responsibility shown by all four adults on board.
Mr Rowles today admitted the charge in the North Shore District Court. He was convicted and sentenced to 250 hours of community work by Judge Barbara Morris.
“The loss of two young children in these circumstances is incredibly sad, and at the end of the day, there are no winners,” Director of MNZ Catherine Taylor said.
“But there is also a responsibility to ensure that lessons learned from this accident are shared with the wider maritime community with the aim of preventing a similar tragedy from happening to anyone else.”
Ms Taylor said the accident was a reminder that all skippers were ultimately responsible for ensuring the seaworthiness of their vessel and the safety of all on board.
“This includes boat owners and skippers conducting simple pre-launch safety checks to ensure essential items such as watertight bungs are fitted, and that while on board, the consumption of alcohol or any other substance which can impair judgment or affect survivability in the water should be avoided.
“This tragedy also reinforces the message that boaties should be fully familiar with all aspects of their craft before planning any trip, such as its engine and handling characteristics, its safety equipment, and the operation of any important mechanical devices such as bilge pumps. This is even more critical if it is a newly purchased vessel which they may be unfamiliar with.”