Grounding of yacht Siesta during delivery voyage with loss of 1 life

Location: Thames Estuary.

Completed PE Summary: Siesta

A short summary of the accident and action taken:

Recreational Craft/Accident Details
Vessel Name Siesta
Registered Owner/Manager Privately owned
Flag UK
Type Yacht
Built 1994
Date/Time 21/06/2005, 0340
Location of Incident Long Sand, Thames Estuary
Incident Type Grounding and accident to person
Persons Onboard 3 crew
Injuries/Fatalities 1 fatality
Damage/Pollution Engine failure/None


11.2m sailing yacht Siesta, with a crew of three, ran aground on the Long Sand in the Thames Estuary in the final stages of a delivery voyage from SE Spain to Ipswich. When attempts to re-float by heeling the yacht and using the engine failed, the skipper went over the side with a rope around his waist with the intention of laying a kedge anchor. The rope became caught around the propeller and he was dragged underneath the yacht. After much difficulty, another crewman managed to free him, but following evacuation by helicopter, the skipper was found to have died.

Action taken

The MAIB will promulgate via its Safety Digest, safety lessons highlighting:

  • Dangers of ropes in proximity to propellers

  • Importance of thorough passage planning

  • Necessity of having charts of the correct scale for the areas to be navigated

  • Effects of fatigue when yachts are being sailed shorthanded for long periods in restricted visibility

  • Importance of risk assessment when a vessel grounds

  • Challenges of shallow, tidal waters, sailors who are more familiar with sailing in largely non tidal waters such as the Mediterranean Sea.

Published 23 January 2015