Capsize of the sailing dinghy Mollyanna with loss of 2 lives

Location: Off Puffin Island, Wales.

Accident Investigation Report 9/2006

Read our marine accident investigation report, which includes what happened, actions taken and subsequent recommendations:

Mollyanna.pdf (358.93 kb)

Annexes (2,386.89 kb)


At about 1430 on 2 July 2005, the sailing dinghy Mollyanna capsized 7 cables off Puffin Island, North Wales. Onboard were its owner, his son, and his two grandsons. After capsizing, the owner’s son tried to right the dinghy, which had inverted. Despite the wind strength of force 5 to 6 and a wave height of about 1.5m, he twice successfully rotated the boat upright, but it quickly capsized, inverting again on both occasions. The dinghy’s owner died about 10 minutes after the initial capsize. His son and two grandchildren were able to hold onto the up-turned hull, and at 1558, were seen by a passing charter fishing boat. The crew of the dinghy were recovered on board the fishing vessel. Both children were taken to hospital by helicopter, but the youngest child was pronounced dead on arrival. The deceased owner and his son were taken to Beaumaris by an RNLI lifeboat, and the charter fishing vessel respectively. The dinghy, which could not be righted by RNLI personnel, was towed to Beaumaris and beached.

Safety Issues

  • the dinghy could not be righted following capsize; it did not meet the stability and buoyancy requirements of EN ISO 12217-3 with respect to boat design category C
  • calculations undertaken in 2001 regarding the dinghy’s stability and buoyancy contained errors, and were possibly incomplete
  • the crew were not aware that deteriorating weather conditions had been forecast
  • the crew were inexperienced dinghy sailors
  • the clothing worn by the crew would have afforded little protection
  • the owner’s lifejacket was not securely fastened


Recommendations have been made to the Department for Trade and Industry, the British Standards Institution, and the British Marine Federation with the aim of improving: the effectiveness of the stability and buoyancy test required by craft similar to the BEZ 2; the quality of the information provided regarding the limitations of a craft, and; the education of the recreational craft industry worldwide with respect to the requirements of the RCD.

This report was published in March 2006.

Published 23 January 2015