Whilst disembarking from his small tender an elderly gentleman fell in to the water between his dinghy and a private river pontoon not connected to the shore. The gentlemen had been in the water some 15–20 minutes before managing to raise the attention of a member of the public. The member of the public was on his dinghy on his way to his own vessel when he heard cries for help. The elderly gentlemen was located in the water between his dinghy and the pontoon.
The member of the public telephoned a local water taxi who he knew was operating in the harbour at the time who in turn contacted the harbour launch, however no party con – tacted the coastguard for assistance. The member of the public managed to tow the casualty who was conscious around to an emergency ladder, which was located on the end of an adjacent harbour authority. However the lowest rung of the ladder was not deep enough for the casualty to get his foot on, the rescuer improvised by inverting the sack truck that was in his tender and securing it over a mooring cleat. By the time the harbour launch arrived at the scene the gentlemen was out of the water and stood on the pontoon apparently none the worse for wear. The har – bour staff gave the casualty warm clothes and escorted him home and ensured that he was well before leaving him.
The casualty was not wearing a lifejacket and was wearing wellington boots which made his extraction from the water all the more difficult.
Corrective Action Taken: Speak with the owner of the pontoon and remind him of his H&S obligations which include the provision of an emergency ladder on the pontoon.
Review the locations, type and depth of the lowest rung of all harbour emergency ladders.
Remind the general public of the importance of wearing a lifejacket when afloat and general precautions to be taken when using your tender including the dangers of wearing heavy boots; the likelihood of cold water and possibility of being alone and with little support in the immediate vicinity in the event of falling overboard.
Harbour staff to be reminded to contact the coastguard in such an incident so as not to delay back up if required. An ambulance should have been called as a precaution and had the coastguard been contacted they would most likely have arranged this.
Also note Royal Yachting Association’s Safety Advisory Notices that can be found on the RYA web site. One theme they promote is the need for people to think what they are doing beyond the primary activity they are involved in. Also consideration should be given to the Recreation Craft Directive that new vessel designs and equipment must allow a person in the water to get out of the water unaided (In force from 16th Jan 2015).