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Men in court over sea rescue drama
SEVEN crew members on a Hampshire boat had to be rescued in the middle of a winter storm, Southampton Crown Court heard.
A video showing the dramatic moments the crew of the Liquid Vortex were rescued from the sea was played to jury members at the start of a five-day trial.
Skipper Charles Sturrock was in charge of the boat when it set sail from Shamrock Quay on the River Itchen in Southampton on Monday, January 2.
Despite force 10 storm warnings he had set sail that afternoon, the court heard.
The next morning the RNLI was forced to mount a rescue of the seven-manned boat, owned by Hot Liquid sailing Ltd, off the coast of Kent after one crew member was thrown overboard, another injured and several had succumbed to seasickness.
Director of the sailing firm, Jason Manning, and Sturrock deny a total of seven charges relating to safety breaches under the Merchant Shipping Act.
Five novice sailors had paid £225 each for a Southampton to London voyage on board the racing yacht which was due to arrive in time for the capital’s annual January boat show.
Sturrock had performed a safety briefing that morning before explaining that they would be doing a night-time crossing, the court heard.
Prosecutor Mary Gibbons read out the weather forecasts that were due to arrive that day saying that gale force eight and nine conditions were expected after 7pm that day.
“Both Manning and Sturrock will have known there was going to be gale force 10 weather warnings and they would have known that this going to sea,” Miss Gibbons added.
At the height of the storm in the early hours of Tuesday January 3 gusts of wind had picked up to 50 knots in some places along the south coast.
At 6.20am a mayday message was sent out after one crew member had been thrown overboard and Jason Heap, from Winchester was injured, the court heard.
Mr Heap, who needed treatment at a hospital in Margate, said: “I was at the helm and a large wave struck me and I was forced onto the wheel. The wheel buckled over. My face hit the wheel and then my chest and then Sturrock called the mayday. I went below deck and was attended to by some of the crew below deck.”
Manning, 36, of Pluto Road, Eastleigh, denies three charges relating to checking weather forecasts, standard operating procedures and failing to contact HM Coastguard.
Sturrock, 50, from Much Wenlock, Shropshire, denies four charges relating to planning of the voyage, complying with standard operating procedures, failing to identify and assess risks to the vessel and crew and to sailing at night without proper equipment.
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