Swamping of netter Gorah Lass resulting in sinking with loss of 3 lives

Location: Off Portreath, Cornwall, England.

Accident Investigation Report 2/1998

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



Gorah Lass, a GRP fishing vessel of 7.78m in length with three people on board foundered with the loss of all hands while returning from a successful fishing trip towards her home port of St Ives in North Cornwall. The accident occurred suddenly and without warning at about 0455 in weather conditions which were described as “nasty” by the only witnesses, the Skipper and crew of another fishing vessel who raised the alarm.

Safety Issues

The investigation has concluded that the vessel was swamped by one or more waves which were unable to drain rapidly from the decks. The additional weight of water on deck and sudden reduction in stability caused the vessel to list and then to capsize and founder. The lives of all three people on board were consequently lost. The lack of a liferaft and the fact that lifejackets, and other emergency equipment were not readily available were contributory factors in the loss of life.


Two recommendations arising from the investigation have been directed to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) with the aim of encouraging research into the behaviour of small fishing vessels in rough seas and improving methods of promulgating the simple safety messages which are at the heart of this accident.

This report was published on 23 July 1998.

Published 23 January 2015