On 25 May 2020, a family were enjoying a day out on the water in the Camel Estuary, Cornwall, on their 5.4m motor cruiser Norma G.
The boat was capsized by a large wave close to the Doom Bar. The owner’s 17-year-old daughter sadly became trapped in the cabin when the boat capsized, and she was unable to escape before the cabin filled with water and she drowned.
Norma G’s owner’s limited boating experience meant he did not fully appreciate the dangers of being so close to the Doom Bar around low water. Sadly, the owner’s daughter’s inflated lifejacket also prevented her from swimming down and out of the submerged cabin door.
Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, Captain Andrew Moll said:
This sad accident highlights the need for leisure boat users to get properly trained and equip themselves with the necessary navigational tools to stay safe. Conditions at sea can change rapidly, boat owners should check the weather forecast before setting out and know the limitations of their boat.
There are many reasons to operate an older craft, but it must be appreciated that some were built to lower safety standards than modern craft and may not be suitable for use at sea. Owners of craft not marked with a CE plate are urged to seek advice from a qualified marine surveyor on the suitability of their craft for its intended use.
Recommendations (2021/129 and 2021/130) have been made to Padstow Harbour Commissioners to consider placing a navigation mark at the north-east extremity of the Doom Bar. A further recommendation (2021/131) has been made to the Wadebridge Boating Club to review and amend the navigation information available to users of the Camel Estuary.