Skipper did not know capsized boat was overloaded

The skipper of a vessel that capsized off the Wexford coast, resulting in one fatality, did not know that the boat was overloaded with people.

It was built before it was compulsory for manufacturers to stamp maximum load numbers on all craft.

The Jillian, a small boat, set out from Kilmore Quay during good conditions, on August 29, 2015.

The skipper was taking family and friends on a fishing trip near the Saltee Islands.

As the vessel was passing between Great and Little Saltee, it became swamped and capsized.

The skipper was still in the wheelhouse and the personal flotation device he was wearing inflated automatically. This impeded his exit from the wheelhouse and he removed it before swimming out from under the now upturned hull.

All of the vessel’s occupants, except one, who remained in the water throughout, managed to climb onto the upturned hull, and stayed there until they were rescued.

No attempt was made to right the vessel.

The skipper of the Saltee Island Ferry, who was a member of the RNLI Lifeboat, noted that the Jillian had not returned and joined the search.

The crew of the ferry heard shouting, while searching along the south eastern shore of the Great Saltee.

The Kilmore Quay and Fethard lifeboats and Dunmore East and Kilmore Quay Coast Guard units were all tasked, along with the R117 rescue helicopter.

All 10 of the boat’s occupants were picked up by the ferry.

One of the group, a 72-year-old man, was transferred to the Kilmore Quay lifeboat and then airlifted by helicopter to Waterford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. All were wearing light summer clothes and personal flotation devices.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB) concluded

the owner/skipper was not aware

the vessel was overloaded when it departed Kilmore Quay.

Investigators said that it is likely that the additional weight of two of the passengers in front of the wheelhouse caused the bow to sit low in the water.

When the vessel entered the rougher water between the islands, this might have been sufficient to allow the waves to break over the bow, rather than the boat riding over them.

The waves breaking over the bow broke the perspex windows and rapidly filled the vessel, causing it to capsize.

The Marine Casualty Investigation Board investigators said all skippers should be aware of the load capacity of their vessels, despite the fact that, in this instance, the Jillian was built before regulations were brought in to ensure manufacturers displayed this information on their craft.

The 72-year-old, from Salisbury in England, was visiting in-laws in Co Wexford, and was among a group who went fishing on that Saturday afternoon .

The party included seven other men, a woman and a teenage boy, all of whom survived.

The group is believed to be from the Wexford area originally and some are part of the same extended family, a number of whom were on a trip home for the get together.



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