Swamping and sinking of open angling boat with loss of 1 life

Location: Firth of Forth, Scotland.

Completed PE Summary: 18ft dory

A short summary of the accident and action taken.

Recreational Craft/Accident Details
  Merchant Vessel/Accident Details
Vessel Name Unnamed
Owner Privately owned
Type Single skin open angling boat
Built Unknown
Construction Glass reinforced plastic (GRP)
Length Overall 5.5m (18ft)
Breadth 2.1m (7ft)
Date/Time 09/08/2008, 0930
Location of Incident Firth of Forth, 56° 11.319N, 002° 58.447W
Incident Type Swamping and sinking
Persons Onboard 2
Injuries/Fatalities 1 fatality
Damage/Pollution Vessel lost


Two men were drift fishing for mackerel in a privately owned open angling boat in the Firth of Forth, Scotland. They had sailed from Methil at 0800 when the conditions were calm. However, by 0930 the sea had become choppy and the anglers agreed to return to port. As the boat got underway, water started to enter over the sides and stern. As one of the men, who was positioned towards the rear, bailed the water from the boat with a bucket, a large breaking swell wave swamped the vessel from astern. The second man moved aft to assist but, as he did so, the boat foundered stern first.

The two men remained afloat but were not wearing lifejackets and had no means of raising the alarm. One of the men was a non-swimmer but was able to hold on to a creel marker buoy. The second man also held onto a second creel marker buoy but soon realised he needed to get assistance. After untying the marker float to provide additional buoyancy, he then swam towards the shore which was about 0.75 mile away and arrived on the beach about 3 hours later.

The coastguard was alerted and a large scale search was immediately undertaken during which the second fisherman was located. He was winched from the sea by an RAF rescue helicopter and taken to a nearby hospital where he was confirmed to be deceased shortly after arrival.

Action taken

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents has written to the Maritime & Coastguard Agency giving details of the accident and advising it to promulgate more widely the Safety Guidelines for Sea Anglers which was published in 1999 and provides extremely useful information regarding boat safety, the RNLI Sea Check scheme, and training and safety equipment to be carried on board.

Copies of the publication can be obtained from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency website Link to Safety Guidelines for Sea Anglers

Published: September 2008

Published 23 January 2015