Community service for boatie who collided with ferry

24 September 2018

An Auckland recreational boatie, Grant Reginald McCutcheon, has been ordered to complete 120 hours community service after his boat collided with a Fullers Group ferry on the Waitemata Harbour.

Maritime NZ charged Mr McCutcheon under the Maritime Transport Act with acting dangerously by not keeping a proper look-out. Mr McCutcheon pleaded guilty.

At sentencing in the Auckland District Court on Friday afternoon, Judge Singh said a fine of $4,300, would have been appropriate. However, Judge Singh then acknowledged Mr McCutcheon is an undischarged bankrupt and would be unable to pay a fine.

“Mr McCutcheon was highly reckless,” Maritime NZ Northern Regional Manager, Neil Rowarth, said. “Keeping a proper look-out is one of the most important rules of the sea. It is crucial for avoiding collisions, and the safety of all vessels and the people on board.

“On a calm, clear night the vessel of which Mr McCutcheon was master collided with the passenger ferry, Seaflyte, which had a flashing yellow strobe light and its navigation lights on. “Mr McCutcheon said he did not even see the ferry until the collision.”

Roa is a 15 metre wooden, recreational vessel. On the evening of 16 September 2016 it departed from Hobsonville marina with Mr McCutcheon and a friend on board. It had its navigation, cockpit, accommodation and engine room lights all on.

Seaflyte departed from Auckland Basin on a scheduled service for Bayswater Marina. Seaflyte is a 22 metre catamaran with a capacity of 208 passengers and crew. At the time it was carrying two passengers and three crew.

As the vessels approached each other Roa had Seaflyte on her starboard side and was therefore obliged to give way. When Roa did not give way Seaflyte was then obliged to take all action necessary to avoid a collision. The master of Seaflyte did not see Roa until it was about 15 metres away, when he put Seaflyte’s engines into full reverse to try to avoid a collision. His efforts were unsuccessful, and the vessels collided at about 8.13pm off Princess Wharf.

The impact caused extensive damage to Roa and less damage to Seaflyte. No one was injured on either vessel.

Following the collision the master of Seaflyte contacted Auckland Harbour Control, reported the incident, and helped Mr McCutcheon and his passenger.

Maritime NZ prosecuted both skippers in relation to the collision. On 4 April 2018 the skipper of Seaflyte pleaded guilty in relation to his role in the incident, and on 16 May 2018 was fined $2,000.

Background

The Maritime Transport Act prohibits “dangerous activity involving ships or maritime products” (section 65) and makes it mandatory to comply with Maritime Rules (section 66). The relevant Maritime Rule is “22.5 Look-out”, which requires a vessel to maintain a proper look-out at all times by all available means.

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