A RED Funnel ferry ploughed into a yacht and almost crushed a family of sailors because its captain “failed to keep a proper lookout”, a court heard.

Captain Ian Drummond sat “static” in his chair as the 305ft ferry smashed into the 32ft motor cruiser in the Solent, prosecutors allege.

The crash forced the small boat to tilt with four passengers inside – nearly capsizing the yacht.

But experienced Drummond remained completely “unaware” the Isle of Wight-bound Red Falcon ferry had crashed into the yacht during its journey across the Solent from Southampton.

The 62-year-old only learned of the collision just before his vessel arrived in Cowes.

During the opening day of Southampton Magistrates’ Court yesterday, the court heard Julie Jackson was with husband Peter on their diesel-powered Phoenix yacht when the crash happened.

Daily Echo:

She was left in shock as the couple and her brother and sister-in-law rushed to put on life jackets while water began to engulf the vessel.

Deborah Baxter said her brother-in-law Peter Jackson was sailing slowly towards Cowes as she often suffered sea sickness.

Mrs Baxter said: “

I heard a loud crashing noise and glass smashing behind me and I could feel a shower of glass pieces hitting me on my back and shoulder area.

“I could see a wall of red. I could not believe it.”

Prosecutors allege Drummond, who began sailing in 1972, would have spotted the yacht in front of the Red Funnel ferry if he had ordered a simple lookout.

He also failed to view CCTV in front of him, the court was told.

The 62-year-old has since claimed modifications made to the ferry in 2014 - which saw it raised in height to accommodate more passengers - meant a further lookout was needed but his pleas were allegedly ignored by Red Funnel.

Opening the case, prosecutor Oliver Willmott said:

“If there had been a proper lookout, the vessel would have been sighted and avoided.

“The vessel was visible. A simple lookout through the bridge windows would have avoided it.”

Daily Echo:

Drummond, of Sandringham Road, Southampton, denies misconduct of master likely to endanger ships, structures or individuals, and being the master responsible for conduct of a vessel contravening the Merchant Shipping regulations on September 29 last year.

The trial continues.

A spokesperson for Red Funnel said the company would comment after the conclusion of the trial.