Originally Posted by BruceB
We have carried out some fairly long and remote night passages with no moon. In fact only two weeks ago we ran from Oban to Lochaline at night to get over early morning and meet a dive boat to go diving. The waters are pretty easy to navigate in daylight but can be a bit tricky at night.
You can't see anything much and have to rely on electronic aids to a very large degree. In this part of the world there is little light from habitation or even nav lights to work out where you are. On a calm night without using electronic aids I am afraid it is all too easy to do something like this incident. Without a moon or when overcast it gets very dark up here...........
There was a similiar one a few years ago at Tarbert in much the same circumstances, alcohol, dark night and excessive speed when the exact position was not known and/or being monitored.
Unfortunately it has happened before and will probably happen again and all we can do is be prepared for the conditions to try and make sure it doesn't happen again soon.
You're right Bruce, it gets very dark. I've done the odd night passage round here, sometimes involuntarily in vile conditions. Without electronic aids they would have been very, very difficult - but possible by using local knowledge, going slowly and being very aware of my surroundings, tidal flows etc. A 'touchy feely' (almost) approach. Our dark nights can take visitors by surprise.
The tragedy, to my mind, in this incident was caused by excessive speed. At five or six knots, embarrassment may have been the only consequence. Plenty of police reality programmes on the TV show that drunken drivers, on the whole, drive too fast. They make errors of judgement and crash.
In this case, there may or may not have been an incident had the crew been sober, but I feel the consquences would have been far less likely to be so tragic.