The MAIB final report re-emphasises the importance of wearing a kill cord when powerboating

An in-depth Marine Accident Investigation Bureau (MAIB) report has been released about a fatal accident that shocked the boating community.

The Milligan family (two adults and their four children) were ejected from their Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) Milly during a day out on the Camel estuary, near Padstow, Cornwall on 5 May 2013.

The RIB continued to circle round the family, striking a number of them; killing the father Nick Milligan and his daughter Emily and seriously injuring the mother Victoria Milligan and four-year-old son Kit.

On the day of the accident the Milligan family were using the boat for the first time in 2013. During the Bank Holiday afternoon, just prior to returning to the mooring, the adults changed over at the helm but the kill cord was not attached to the new driver, Mrs Milligan.

A short time later, Mr Milligan, who was no longer controlling the boat reached across in front of the driver and operated the helm and engine controls to execute a tighter, high-powered turn, and the accident followed almost immediately.

Post-accident trials of Milly, held in Portland Harbour, showed it to have some undesirable handling characteristics in certain circumstances, which could be mitigated by design changes.

The key safety issues identified by the MAIB’s latest report were:

  • A kill cord was not attached to the driver at the time of the accident.
  • The drivers were unprepared for the boat’s reaction when it was
    turned at speed and then ‘hooked’ as they did not have the level of boat
    handling skills required to control such a turn.
  • Trials undertaken on the boat found that it developed a high angle of heel when turned at high speeds.
  • Occupants should be seated, holding on and as far aft as possible when boats are travelling at speed.

Recommendations have been made to the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) to review its powerboat scheme content to provide additional advice on the potential hazards of high power/high performance operations.

Recommendations have also been made to the manufacturer, APV Marine Limited, to ensure the boat’s Recreational Craft Directive documentation is accurate and consistent, and hull design is reviewed to reduce the steep angle of heel the boat adopts in tight turns.

Read the full report here.

At the London Boat Show 2014, the RYA launched the first of its annual Safety Advisory Notices, as an easily accessible digest of current safety issues. The first Critical Safety Issue provides the RYA’s advice on the importance of always wearing a kill cord.

Read the full Safety Advisory Notice here.

Pictures: A local boatman about to board and regain control of Milly; the RIB circling out of control after the accident – image still from BBC video; Milly