Capsize of lug sail day boat Newfoundland Dory with loss of 2 lives

Location: Off Siloth, Solway Firth, Scotland.

Completed PE Summary: Newfoundland Dory

A short summary of the accident:

Recreational Vessel/Accident Details
Registered Owner and Manager: Privately owned
Built Unknown
Construction GRP
Length Overall 5.5m
Date/Time 30/04/07, 1100-1300
Location of Incident Solway Firth
Incident Type Accident to Person
Persons Onboard 2
Injuries/Fatalities: 2 fatalities
Damage/Pollution None


The owner of the day boat had planned a short day trip along the coast with a friend acting as crew. In preparation for the trip the outboard was tested and a passage plan was produced. The intention was to sail close-in along the coast between Siloth and Maryport. On the day of the trip the wind was forecast as an east or north-east force 4-5 occasionally 6.

The owner had made alterations to his vessel during his ownership. With the aim of making the vessel more stable, he had added sand bags and also modified the dagger-board to make it heavier.

The boat was launched at the slipway at Siloth at approximately 1100 and then motored off shore to enable the lug sail to be hoisted. With the wind and tide behind the boat a quick passage was anticipated. Within 1-2 nautical miles of the departure point the boat capsized and the crew were thrown into the water. Both men were wearing personal buoyancy aids, however, they were unable to raise the alarm as their mobile phone had been stowed in the forward locker.

The Coastguard was alerted later that day when the boat, with its two man crew, was overdue. The air and sea search found nothing on the day of the accident. Sadly, the body of the owner was recovered the following day and the other crewman 2 days later. The inverted boat, rudder, tiller and outboard were found over the two weeks following the accident. The dagger-board has not been found.

The evidence suggests the dagger-board probably dropped out of the bottom of the boat prior to capsize, which would have made the boat easier to capsize. The dory then likely capsized as a result of a gust of wind catching in the sail in combination with the vessel becoming broadside on to the waves.

Published 23 January 2015