Propeller Fouled – Lifeboat Called

Report Text:

Vessel: A yacht under power.  Event: Motoring close to wind, engine suddenly stopped.  Tackle seen around transom.  Onshore wind, force 4 to 5.

Action: Hastily anchored as we getting perilously close to concrete blocks on the lee shore.  Listening on channel 72 (a club cruise channel).  Notified that Coastguard was trying to reach us.  Called CG who had already received a number of calls (origin unknown to me) and Inshore Life Boat was on its way.  I had not called CG as once the anchor held we were not in immediate danger and I wanted to resolve the problem if possible.  Not possible.  Towed to port  by ILB.

Damage: Prop jammed by rope and damage to the cutlass bearing.

Cause: The only surface evidence of the tackle was a buoy about 20cm in diameter which was 80% covered in weed, as were the odd bits of rope.  This appeared to be redundant tackle.  In the sea then running it was invisible.

It has been suggested that the more evidence of similar events that you have the more likely is something to be done.  One suggestion is that all fishing tackle should have the owners or the boats name on it.  There is a vast amount of tackle in this area , some of which is badly marked, and it is on the inshore route taken by small vessels.

CHIRP Comment:

In respect of the actual incident, an earlier call to the Coastguard would have been prudent.  This would have provided them with more comprehensive information in determining what action was appropriate, for example whether to ask another vessel to stand-by or to call out the life-boat.  The yachtsman may have been confident in the ability of his anchor and warp to prevent him grounding but, in the absence of information from the yacht, the Coastguard would not necessarily assume that. In calling out the ILB, the Coast Guard no doubt had in mind that with the yacht’s close proximity to the shore, the situation might have deteriorated rapidly.

The report also highlights the importance of maintaining a listening watch on Channel 16 as well as any working channel. This would have allowed the Coastguard to contact the yacht.

In respect of the general problem of fouling of propellers by fishing gear, please do continue to send us reports.  We are pleased to advise that, following consultation with the various interested parties, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency will soon be issuing a new leaflet giving guidance on the marking of fishing gear.