The incident

An hour and a half before grounding CV24 was sailing on a southerly course towards the open sea under its full mainsail and medium weight asymmetric spinnaker; it was dark and visibility was moderate in hazy conditions. The true wind then started backing from a north-easterly to a north-north-westerly direction and increased in strength.

As this happened the crew made a succession of small alterations of course to port to maintain the same apparent wind direction and prevent an unwanted gybe or spinnaker collapse. However, these alterations resulted in the yacht being sailed close inshore. The skipper had realised that a gybe would be necessary to head away from danger but, soon after this turn was made, CV24 grounded and could not be freed.

Findings

  1. As the true wind backed to the predicted north-north-westerly direction, the crew of CV24 focused on maintaining a safe apparent wind, which resulted in the yacht being sailed close inshore.
  2. The skipper was aware of the danger ahead and the need to gybe, but had not allowed enough time for the watch on deck to conduct this evolution for the first time together in the dark.
  3. The skipper was the only person monitoring navigation, and became distracted from this task by the requirement to supervise the gybe evolution.
  4. The skipper’s lack of access to navigational information, the depth information not being displayed at the port helm station and the hazy conditions meant that no-one onboard CV24 appreciated the immediate risk of grounding.
  5. After the gybe, the skipper and crew on deck did not have sufficient positional awareness to appreciate that CV24 was not heading away from danger as perceived.
  6. There was insufficient planning for the coastal passage and no safeguards were in place to warn the skipper or crew of danger.
  7. Had a route with cross track distances been plotted in Timezero, it might have been more evident to crew in the nav station that CV24 had departed from a safe route.
  8. The presence of other yachts in CV24’s vicinity might have induced a false sense of security.
  9. CV24 did not have a nominated navigator with the experience, authority and guidance to prepare and monitor a passage plan on behalf of the skipper. Provision of such a role on board Clipper Ventures’ yachts had been recommended to the company in 2010.
  10. With only one professional, employed seafarer on board, the Clipper yachts were not safely manned for the round the world race.

Lessons learned

  • CV24 was not safely manned or operated as the skipper was the only qualified, professional seafarer on board, and there was no dedicated navigator with responsibility for passage planning and execution
  • There was not an effective plan for CV24’s coastal passage along the Cape Peninsula and, when unexpectedly close inshore, the skipper became distracted from navigation by the requirement to supervise the crew on deck. It was also difficult for the crew to monitor the yacht’s position when on deck
  • Company risk assessments, operational procedures and taking opportunities to learn from previous groundings could all have provided a higher level of safety management onboard Clipper Ventures’ yacht fleet, particularly when operating in remote and often harsh environments.

Recommendations

  1. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency is recommended to provide guidance and direction on safety management to Clipper Ventures plc in order to assure the safe operation of the company’s yachts in accordance with the Small Commercial Vessel Code.
  2. Clipper Ventures plc is recommended to:--> Review and improve company safety management procedures in co-operation with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and aligned with the guidance proposed above. This review should ensure that:
  • Risk assessments for on-water operations identify all hazards and set out appropriate mitigating measures.
  • Accidents and incidents are thoroughly investigated so that causal factors and lessons are identified in order that, where necessary, changes are made to company procedures to minimise the risk of recurrence.
  • There is guidance and terms of reference for members of staff with responsibility for safety management.-->Update procedures for the safe navigation of its vessels at all times when underway, including:
  • Defining the role, responsibility, training and experience necessary of a nominated navigator.
  • Ensuring that thorough passage plans are prepared, taking into account guidance identified in this report.
  • Ensuring that procedures include instructions when the nav station should be manned and navigation reporting policies between the nav and helm stations.
  • Provision of training and guidance for all crew who may have navigation duties in the use of electronic navigational systems and how to identify hazards ahead within the determined fixing interval.

Explore more herebelow: