Short cut cruise

Navigation markers are there for a reason. The master of this charter boat learnt the hard way that a shortcut can be a rocky road.


A luxury 34 metre catamaran departed for a Christmas party cruise from at 7 pm with 169 passengers on board. Christmas is a busy time for charter boat operators and this year was no exception. The master was working an extra shift to cover for someone else and was tired from a busy week.

As was his normal procedure, the master cruised on one engine to conserve fuel and only used both engines for turning and berthing.

About halfway through the night, the master began preparations to turn around and go back to the wharf so he started the second engine so as to provide better steering control. While he started the engine, (at a speed of about 4 knots), the master decided to cut the corner around the point. The master could see the light of a port hand channel marker, but thought that he had enough room between the marker and the shore.

Since the distance between the marker and the nearby rocks was only 15 metres and vessel had a beam of nearly 10 metres, it was always going to be a tight fit. Sure enough, the vessel ran aground damaging the port hull with the bulbous bow shearing off.

The short cut resulted in cutting short both the cruise and the catamaran.

Lessons learned

  1. Navigation Markers are there for a reason and should not be disregarded without adequate planning and assessment of the risks.
  2. Ensure that you are well rested and remember that the effects of fatigue can be similar to the effects of alcohol and can lead to poor judgement and decision making.
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