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Dolphin-watch boat sinks students in sailing cutter

by Sail-World Cruising round-up on 6 Feb 2011
Outward Bound cutter collision - six students injured SW
A group of Outward Bound students on Marlborough Sound in the South Island of New Zealand got more adventure than they signed up for when their small cutter sailing boat was hit by a Dolphin Watch Ecotours boat.

After the collision, the boat began sinking and the students ended up in the water, some of them injured.


One student sustained a broken leg. Seven others had moderate injuries. People on other boats who witnessed the incident raced to rescue the students, all of whom were wearing life jackets.

According to passengers on the dolphin watch boat, they had been about 20 minutes into a four hour trip when the collision occurred. Two of the students were thrown onto the deck of their boat.

A police spokesman said the students, who had been paddling not sailing their vessel, saw the Dolphin Watch Ecotours boat approaching and tried to alert the skipper they were on a collision course but to no avail. The catamaran rammed into their boat, throwing the students into the water. None of the passengers on the dolphin watch boat were injured, but a gaping hole had been left in the front of the catamaran.

Outward Bound chief executive Trevor Taylor said he was still trying to piece together what happened but the cutter involved in the collision had sunk. All 12 students were safe and families were being contacted.

One of the directors of Dolphin Watch Ecotours, said he did not know why the skipper of his boat, who was very experienced, had not seen the cutter. He had been stood down pending the outcome of an investigation.

Two students were flown by Rescue Helicopter to Wellington Hospital, the one with a broken leg and another with a suspected broken ankle that turned out to be sprained. The others injured – three men and three women – were taken to Blenheim's Wairau Hospital by ambulance.

A hospital spokesman said four of the six injured had been treated and discharged.

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