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On 24 July 2019 at Loch Carnan, Outer Hebrides, the owner/skipper of the single-handed creel fishing boat, May C, was found close to his boat in the sea and unconscious by the crew of another small boat. He was recovered onto the walkway of a fish farm to commence CPR. Unable to revive him, they then took him to a nearby jetty where an ambulance was in attendance. Despite being taken ashore, May C’s skipper could not be resuscitated and the postmortem examination established that he had drowned. The weather conditions were fine with calm seas and a gentle breeze; the sea temperature was 14°C.

Safety Lessons

  • Most likely he fell overboard and drowned while trying to clear weed or some other obstruction from his propeller. 
  • He was not wearing his personal flotation device (PFD) or carrying his personal locator beacon (PLB).
  • Single-handed fishing operations are extremely hazardous, primarily because there is no-one there to help if you get into difficulties. 
  • Every fishing vessel should have a method of recovering a man overboard back into the boat. The fact that the two crew of the boat who found May C’s skipper were unable to immediately recover him out of the water is testament of the extreme physical effort required to haul someone out of the sea. 

MAIB’s investigation reports are posted on: www.gov.uk/maib

Photo courtesy the MAIB website

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