Job Safety

January 22, 2007

Skipper is Asleep

A fishing boat grounded on a beach in Tory Channel last April because the skipper fell asleep, an investigation has found.

The Venture, a 13m Nelson-based fishing vessel, grounded at the base of a cliff just north of Tipi Bay in the Marlborough Sounds while on the way from Picton to Oamaru on April 19.

As the boat was in no immediate danger and the crew were uninjured the skipper decided to wait until daylight before seeking help. But the crew of a passing ferry noticed the boat aground and reported it.

The Venture was undamaged and was successfully refloated on the next high tide with help from a tug.

A Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) report said the skipper of the Venture was probably suffering from fatigue at the time of the grounding.

The report said his fatigue was probably due to a change in his normal routine, combined with stress from navigating unfamiliar waters.

“Had the skipper been more aware of the signs and symptoms of fatigue he would have been better prepared to deal with it,” the report said.

It would have been “more prudent” for the skipper to have remained in Picton until the next day to make sure he and the crew were well rested.

If the vessel had had a watchkeeping alarm system it would not have stopped the skipper falling asleep, but may have woken him in time to avoid the grounding, the report said

TAIC recommendations included making sure all vessels owned by the company had a copy of the Fish SAFE organisation’s “Safety Guidelines for Small Commercial Fishing Vessels” on board.

Thank you New Zealand Herald