Incident - A Lesson Learned
Following a recent experience I thought you might like to read our story and some of my reflection. At this point I had been fishing the Western Solent in my own and others boats for 28 years and so I knew it well. During a July 2004 competition at 10:30 in the morning a 40í Yacht under power was on a direct line, to my bow, and bearing down on our anchored position. The vessel did not alter course even though Steve and I were screaming and whistling down wind at it. There was not enough time to reach for the Air Horn (available and always in the same place for emergencies) as the Yacht was travelling at least 10 Knots over the ground with the tide I just had time to start the engine and steer hard to Starboard, the impact almost was immediate. The bow of the Yacht smashed into our Port side, smashing the Port side window and holing the hull just below the rubbing streak or fender. A rod and our landing net in the portside rod holders were smashed too. The force of the collision caused my Shetland 570 to be pushed out of the way, down and almost completely on its side, we shipped a lot of water. I should note here that I was very close to diving in but as my 570 righted herself, I quickly changed my mind. The initial thought was Ďget outí as I donít want to be trapped underneath. It did occur to me that I wasnít wearing my floatation coat or lifejacket. We had about a foot of water over our deck with our ragworm bait freely swimming around our feet. However this is what wound me up, as the 40í yacht smashed its way past, not deflecting from its line at all, we observed that there was no one steering the boat, and as they left my stern, two people, a older man and lady, appeared from below decks.

The man took the helm and immediately turned around the yacht and stayed with us until we were happy that we were safe, had bailed out all the water, established we were not sinking, that the engine was OK and we had exchanged contact details. The skipper admitted liability and noted that we were correctly displaying a black round marker buoy on my mast, indicating that we were anchored. I also have a RADAR reflector.

I reported the incident to Solent Coastguard on Ch67, informing them of the details of the collision and that in my opinion we were safe and that we were happy to stay out. The tide was approaching low water and I could not return to my moorings until 2 hours before High Water. The coastguard requested that we notified them of our condition every 2 hours. This incident was extremely serious and we were very close to being sunk. My last second manoeuvre probably saved the yacht hitting us square Bow to Bow, and who knows what the consequences would have been, injury for sure.

The main lesson for me, was that I should have been wearing a life jacket, now I canít argue against that one in any way. Guess what, the stupid thing is I never bothered to put on a lifejacket for the rest of the day! I do have a floatation coat and I now think, due to this experience, they really are a false sense of security as during the summer it stays in the cabin most of the time. I had the correct navigational markings as above, a RADAR reflector, Air Horn to hand, Radio with DSC (certificated user), good anchor and warp and was out of the shipping channel, however none of this stopped this irresponsible idiot relieving himself of his duties in one of the most busiest waterways in the South on one of the busiest days of the year. Luckily there is no long term damage to man or boat but I now have this nervous twitch of looking uptide every couple of minutes!

Although the damage looks minimal the estimate of repair was over £2000, at the time could I afford that, no, and I lost a summers fishing!

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