Please select your home edition
Edition
Mariners Museum 728x90

Ferry has its day in court- New Zealand sailboat skipper fined

by Maritime New Zealand on 31 Aug 2011
Classique without a ferry in the way SW
Sail does NOT have right of way over power in all cases, and New Zealand authorities this week showed how seriously they take it.

In the Auckland District Court yesterday (August 29), Melville John Bolton, 73, of Mt Roskill, was convicted and fined $4000 and ordered to pay court costs $1,356, after being convicted on 13 January this year of one charge of 'operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk' under S65 of the Maritime Transport Act (MTA) 1994.

The conviction followed an Marine New Zealand (MNZ) investigation into an incident on the Hauraki Gulf on 14 March 2009, in which the Waiheke to Auckland ferry Seaway II had to take emergency evasive action to avoid a collision with the yacht Classique, skippered by Mr Bolton.

Despite the master of the Seaway II attempting to warn Mr Bolton with repeated blasts on the ship’s whistle that the Classique would cut dangerously close across his path, the warnings were ignored. Alarmed that a collision was imminent, the master of the Seaway II was forced to slow rapidly and put the vessel into reverse, allowing the yacht to pass close across his bow and down the starboard (right) side of the vessel.

Despite being a vastly experienced skipper, when questioned by MNZ, Mr Bolton admitted he had deliberately ignored the maritime collision prevention rules, which are designed to stop dangerous ‘close quarter’ situations from developing, as he had assumed the ferry would alter its course to port. He argued at the hearing that a customary body of law existed that enabled him to use his own experience and judgment of the situation to assess the risk of collision – despite the existence of the Maritime Rules.

The District Court Judge rejected that argument.

MNZ Manager of Maritime Investigations, Steve van der Splinter, said the incident illustrated the dangers of skippers ignoring internationally recognised safety rules, and automatically assuming that other skippers would take the right course of action when confronted with a potentially dangerous collision situation.

'This would be a bit like turning your car across the path of an oncoming truck and then expecting the truck driver to take the correct action to avoid you. This is clearly reckless and foolish in the extreme, and it’s only down to the quick thinking and skill of the master of the Seaway II that this incident did not result in far more serious consequences.

'No matter how skilled or experienced a skipper you may be, the collision prevention rules are there for a good reason – to prevent these situations from happening in the first place – and no-one is above the rules,' Mr van der Splinter said.

Breaches by individuals of S65 of the MTA on conviction carry penalties of a fine not exceeding $10,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year.

Mr van der Splinter said the large fine imposed reflected the seriousness of the offending. Maritime New Zealand's Ross Henderson also says the conviction reflects the seriousness of the incident.

Mr Henderson says the conviction took two years after interventions from Mr Bolton's legal team.
C-TechRS Sailing 660x82Southern Spars - 100

Related Articles

Int Moth Worlds - Zhik returns to its spiritual home at 2017 Worlds
Zhik is returning to its roots as the official clothing sponsor of the 2017 McDougall McConaghy Moth World Championships Zhik, the innovative sailing apparel specialist, is returning to its roots as the official clothing sponsor of the 2017 McDougall McConaghy Moth World Championships. And, ten years on, the Moths are returning to their spiritual home on Lake Garda. Zhik and the International Moth class are virtually synonymous with each other.
Posted on 20 Jul
Cheeki Rafiki - Douglas Innes to face retrial over manslaughter
Douglas Innes to face retrial over manslaughter The Director of Stormforce Coaching, the company that ran Cheeki Rafiki, is set to face retrial for manslaughter over the deaths of the four crew. They were 700nm from Nova Scotia, returning to Southampton after racing in Antigua when the keel feel off. It is said that previous groundings had weakened the keel bolts....
Posted on 17 Jul
Rytov continues to defend lead at 2017 Melges 20 European Championship
On the eve of final day at Melges 20 European Championship Russia's Igor Rytov & his Russian Bogatyrs remains in command On the eve of the final day at the 2017 Melges 20 European Championship, Russia's Igor Rytov and his Russian Bogatyrs remains in command. Thanks to a very consistent performance thus far, they are inching ever closer to capturing the top European title and trophy.
Posted on 15 Jul
Get better wave forecasts from PredictWind and ECMWF
Predictwind is well-known for accurate wind forecasts but now leads the way with accurate wave forecasts PredictWind is well known for its world leading accurate wind forecasts, but did you know Predictwind also leads the way with accurate wave forecasts?
Posted on 12 Jul
Centennial Transat builds bridge to a flying future
The Queen Mary 2 won its battle with the four 30-meter trimarans, as expected, in upwind conditions for the sailboats The race was timed to mark a hundred years since American troops arrived on the shores of France in WW1, and it also brought together all of the fastest Ultimate trimarans for the first time as the class begins to take flight.
Posted on 7 Jul
X-Yachts announce the new X49 as the latest member of the 'X' range
In 2016, X-Yachts launched the new pure ‘X’ range which included the X4³ and the X65.  In 2016, X-Yachts launched the new pure ‘X’ range, which included the X43 and the X65. This range was exceptionally well received by both press and clients, with more than 50 yachts sold in the first year. The ‘X’ range incorporates the best elements from both the Xcruising range and the Xperformance range into one beautifully designed performance cruiser
Posted on 6 Jul
Sailors for the Sea named an Environmental Innovator of the Year
Green Sports Alliance presented annual Environmental Leadership Award and Environmental Innovators of the Year Awards The Green Sports Alliance presented their annual Environmental Leadership Award and Environmental Innovators of the Year Awards, the highlight of their annual Green Sports Celebration on Wednesday, June 28th at the Green Sports Alliance Summit in Sacramento, CA.
Posted on 5 Jul
The Bridge – Colville nurses boat and crewman to third place finish
Arriving in New York on Independence Day will be some consolation for finishing lower on the podium than Colville wanted Sodebo Ultim’ finished five hours nine minutes and 52 seconds after second-placed IDEC Sport and 15 hours 47 minutes and 35 seconds after the winner Macif.
Posted on 4 Jul
The Bridge – Francis takes second but not passing the flame on yet
Joyon and his crew of Alex Pella, Gwénolé Gahinet, Sébastien Picault and Quentin Ponroy exchanged the lead with Macif IDEC Sport remained in the hunt, 30-50 miles behind, and Joyon used all his nous to make it quickly through transition zones and keep a boat 10 years older and several tonnes heavier in contention.
Posted on 4 Jul
François Gabart and Macif win The Bridge – Centennial Transat
François Gabart and his five-man crew on Macif have won The Bridge – Centennial Transat trimaran race François Gabart and his five-man crew on Macif have won The Bridge – Centennial Transat trimaran race, crossing the finish line under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York, on Monday, July 3 at 13:31:20 (local time), 08 days, 00 hours 31 minutes and 20 seconds after leaving from under the Saint-Nazaire Bridge. Macif sailed 3,582.13 nautical miles at an average speed of 18.61 knots.
Posted on 4 Jul