Boat’s capsizing blamed on unsuitable conditions

An investigation into how a boat ferrying tourists on a Killarney lake capsized, throwing all on board into the water, has concluded that the voyage from Ross Castle to the Gap of Dunloe was carried out in unsuitable weather conditions and the skipper made no attempt to contact the emergency services.

Boat’s capsizing blamed on unsuitable conditions

In its report, the Marine Casualty Investigation Board described the incident on Lough Leane which occurred on September 1 last year as “serious marine casualty, which posed the threat of death or serious injury” to all those on board the boat.

The incident occurred shortly after 12 passengers and skipper of the PV Mary Ann of Dunloe set out on Lough Leane from one of the piers near Ross Castle for the traditional boat trip through the three Killarney lakes.

A second passenger boat which arrived to rescue them also capsized; everyone was eventually taken to safety on board a third boat. They were all wearing lifejackets.

Some of the passengers, including visitors from Germany and the US, had been in the water for 20 minutes.

“The Master did not raise any alarm by radio, mobile phone or flare requesting assistance,” says the report. “Passengers believed that they were unsuccessful in their attempt to attract the attention of a nearby waterbus. However, although the waterbus continued on its passage due to the restricted depth of water in the area, it did alert a nearby vessel.”

The report says the timber construction and buoyancy arrangements required for a P2 passenger boat licence ensured the boat didn’t sink.

The report reveals that, while the voyage commenced in a sheltered area of the lake, it continued into a more exposed part where the conditions were unsuitable.

“The available evidence suggests that the nature of the conditions met by the vessel makes it more probable that it was not a single wave that swamped the vessel, as suggested by the Master. There was water in the vessel up to the passengers’ ankles before the Master commenced the turning manoeuvre. This indicated that the pump was not adequately extracting the water at the speed of ingress. The combination of the prevailing lake conditions, the large amount of water already in the vessel, the speed of the vessel and the turning manoeuvre all contributed to the vessel becoming swamped.”

The MCIB report also found that a weather buoy on the lake is not operational and, therefore, there is no accurate means of determining weather conditions on Lough Leane.

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