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American skipper ordered to pay $3000 after incident

7 March 2014

American skipper ordered to pay $3000 after incident on Auckland Harbour

The American skipper of a 17m vessel on a round-the-world cruise has been fined $1000 and ordered to pay reparations of $2000 after snagging a family’s fishing craft and dragging it 30m through the water on Waitemata Harbour on 11 January 2014.

The father of the family of four, which includes 10-year-old twins – a boy and a girl – was forced to cut the anchor line of his boat to free it from the US vessel, Karma, which failed to stop before berthing in Bayswater Marina.

The skipper of the Karma, Richard Livu Panescu, was charged by Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) with operating a ship in a manner which caused unnecessary danger or risk to any other person, under Section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act.

He pleaded guilty in Auckland District Court today (7 March) and was fined, and ordered to pay reparations to the family on board the snagged vessel.

The incident occurred when the Karma cruised through a group of small recreational vessels fishing off Stanley Point in the Waitemata Harbour, rather than taking a longer route to the marina.

Mr Panescu attempted to pass between two vessels anchored close to each other but the Karma’s hull caught the anchor line of the family’s 4.5m boat.

Karma began towing the smaller boat though the water, almost causing the boy to fall overboard, and prompting the father to cut his anchor line, fearing for the safety of his family.

MNZ Regional Compliance Manager Deane Ingram said the prosecution should send a strong message to everyone out on the water for work or play.

“MNZ takes very seriously all incidents that pose a danger or risk of harm at sea – recreational or commercial. We will take firm action to ensure water users are operating safely,” he said.

“This incident could very easily have resulted in serious harm but would have been avoided completely if sensible navigational practices had been followed.”

ENDS

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