Avoid a Christmas tragedy: don’t drink and drive on the water 

Avoid a Christmas tragedy: don’t drink and drive on the water 

Leisure sailors have been urged to take the traditional drink-drive safety message from the roads onto the water to help avoid a Christmas tragedy this year. 
A man drinking from a can while at the helm of a motorboat

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has appealed to the boating community to look after each other by acting responsibly during festive and New Year celebrations involving vessels. 

The advice follows the culmination of a criminal investigation into the death of 24-year-old David Haw in Poole harbour, in which alcohol was identified by a judge as an aggravating factor. 

David was killed after a RIB on which he was a passenger – driven by a man who had been drinking – crashed into a buoy while travelling at excessive speed shortly after midnight on 2 May 2022. 

MCA Lead Investigator Mark Cam said: “Just as drink-driving in a car can lead to life-changing consequences, so can mixing alcohol with sailing or powerboating.  

“On the water you’re facing the extra factors of weather, tides and navigation, sometimes far from help or in the dark. It’s just not safe for you or others to cloud your judgement with drink. 

“If you’re in charge and you’re not feeling shipshape – or you’re concerned about your skipper – then make a fresh plan and stay in dock. Look after each other and don’t let your crew’s voyage end in tragedy and the courts.” 

The MCA played a key role supporting Dorset Police’s investigation of the Poole harbour crash and prosecuting the case. 

Helmsman Morgan Smith, of Northampton, was sentenced on 21 November at Winchester Crown Court to three years behind bars, having previously pleaded guilty to gross negligence manslaughter. 

Main picture: stock image


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