Investigation into close quarters incident to begin

Marine photographer Tony Toller, captured this moment over the weekend as an XOD yacht sailed across the bow of the Red Funnel IOW ferryRed Falcon, despite repeated warnings from the ferry’s captain.

Red Funnel has now released a statement confirming a close quarter’s situation at approximately 1450 hrs on Sat 13 June 2009, saying:

‘The incident, 1.5 cables off the entrance to Cowes harbour involved a yellow X One design yacht which passed in front of the approaching Ro-Ro ferry (Red Falcon) with disregard to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (IRPCS).

‘Despite the Master of the ferry issuing an initial warning signal and reducing speed, the yacht did not alter course. The ferry continued to reduce speed and after a further warning signal, had to go astern to allow the yacht to pass safely ahead.’

Mark Thomson, Red Funnel Marine Manager commented: “The vast majority of yachtsmen are competent and conversant with the international rules of navigation but we do occasionally get situations where complacency or bad seamanship requires avoiding action on our part. An investigation, in conjunction with the Cowes Harbour Authority is currently underway into Saturday’s incident.”

Cowes Harbour Master, Captain Stuart McIntosh confirmed that he had received the incident report and was awaiting a further submission from the yacht club that had organised the race. He confirmed that the ferry would not come under the Solent’s ‘MPZ – Moving Prohibited Zone’ which requires all vessels to stay 1,000m clear ahead of any vessel over 150m long (Red Falcon is only 93.22m long). But he indicated that IRPCS Rule 9 – narrow channels – would most likely be the pertinent rule in the investigation.

A statement from Tina Scott, XOD Class Secretary is expected tomorrow.

See related story: Solent sailors get ‘friendly’ VTS reminder