Yacht owner fined
Owner of charter yacht prosecuted
By IBI Magazine / David Foxwell
At Southampton Magistrates Court on the south coast of the UK last week, Alan Taylor, age 56 from Bournemouth, owner of sailing yacht Octette, pleaded guilty to breaching the Merchant Shipping (Vessels in Commercial Use for Sport or Pleasure) Regulations 1998. Octette was on private hire through Mr Taylor to the Skipper and his family for a fee of £600 for seven days.
The charges were brought following discovery that Mr Taylor did not have a valid Code of Practice Certificate or have any certificates to show that his yacht complied with legislation such as Life Saving Appliance Regulations or Load Line Regulations.
The MCA instigated the investigation after Octette collided with another yacht in the Solent, whilst on charter in July 2002. Mr Taylor tried to claim from his insurance company for the damaged caused to his yacht, but found the policy to be invalid because Octette was on charter.
The safety regulations that cover such craft are contained in the MCA Code of Practice known as the Blue Code, and are intended to protect the public by ensuring, amongst other things, that the correct safety equipment, watertight integrity and stability and crew competence is in place.
Magistrates heard how Mr Taylor contacted the Royal Yachting Association to suspend the Code of Practice certificate, claiming it was not to be used commercially.
Upon sentencing the Magistrate told the court that this offence is considered at the higher end of a technical offence.
Mr Taylor was fined £600 and ordered to pay £1,200 costs.
Alan Fairney, deputy director of Operations for the MCA said: "The Codes of Practice offer small commercial vessel operators a simple way of complying with the necessary safety regulations. The MCA monitors compliance with these Codes and takes action against rogue operators who put the public at serious risk or danger. I hope that today's case will act as a deterrent to all charter operators who ignore the regulations."
(5 April 2004)
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt!