Whilst motoring in my yacht in the Solent in force 6 wind, there was a ‘bang’ and the engine stopped instantly. I initially suspected a problem with engine, but it restarted and ran normally in neutral. The engine stalled when ahead and astern gears engaged. I returned to my berth under sail where divers removed fishing gear comprising a punctured white fender, anchor warp weighted line with fish hooks attached and grapnel.
The feathering propeller was badly damaged. The vessel was subsequently lifted from the water and a spare propeller fitted.
Lessons Learned: In a moderate tidal stream, marker buoys are often dragged below the surface, and amongst white horses can be very difficult to spot, especially when the markers are white.
The fishing buoy on which the yacht fouled her propeller was a small white fender which would have been difficult to see in white-crested waves. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency issued revised guidance in 2008 on the marking of fishing gear. Furthermore, for the Solent, the Southampton Harbour Master has authorised his patrol craft to remove fishing gear that is not properly marked.
In contrast to the improperly marked gear noted in this report, it was pleasing to see a commercial fishing boat with buoys that were conspicuously marked. However, we would observe that if the fishing signal (two cones with apexes together in a line one above the other) were to be attached to the masthead by a halyard rather than a fixed lashing, this would allow the signal to be lowered easily when not fishing.