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Delivering yachts like these across the world's oceans can be a great
way to earn a living, but sometimes the reality can be far from the
glamourous lifestyle of fair winds Five sailors dead in three separate
tragedies. Tonight on Inside Out, did this man put profit before
safety? You owe it to the families who lost
their husbands, their brothers... The dangerous work on board
delivery yachts is unregulated so it is all too easy for a badly
equipped or unregistered boat to cross the planet's oceans like a
ghost ship. How many more people, how many more skippers have to die,
how many more families have to go through the heartbreak?
Family and survivors claim Reliance lot management pressured skippers
to sail into dangerous conditions against their better judgment, and
with fatal consequences. It breaks your heart when you think of a
loved one, somebody loved so much, And now the shipping forecast
issued by the Met Office at 0 5:05am... It is not always possible
to avoid bad weather, particularly if the yacht delivery company you
work for is not giving you enough support.
We are getting ready to go out to sea. It is not a delivery and we
are not crushing any notions, but still this boat is better equipped
than some of those delivered by Reliance. The crew are well-
qualified, the skipper's decision on board is final and we have the
latest weather reports. It was midwinter when Alasdair
Crawford set out into the Bay of Biscay bound for the Caribbean.
there are warnings of gales... was a recently qualified skipper
but had already crossed a couple of Ocean's working for Hampshire-based
Reliance.! So severe gale nine... - - severe gale. These pictures were
shot just hours later. Richard Heath was on board.
The notorious Bay of Biscay was soon be living up to its reputation.
It is a dangerous place, as these many RECs testified. As we went out
to see the weather deteriorated. The wind blew harder and the waves
became bigger. It started off blowing 20, 25 knots, it went to 30
knots, 35, 40, 45, and that is when we decided to turn back. It kept
increasing, 50, 55, 60 knots, we were about a mile offshore when the
big wave hit the boat on the side. The third crew member was 17 year-
old Mick Dieperink from Holland. He described the events in an e-mail.
Suddenly a massive wave reached the top of our mast so it had to be 50
ft high. The wind speed was up to 90 knots. We were around 360
degrees and knocked off the mast. All three were thrown into the sea.
Only Nick made it back on board. was being blown away from us and we
couldn't catch up with it. Richard's lifejacket was torn away.
Alasdair called out to make who was waving a red flare from the deck.
heard somebody calling me, not shouting but very relaxed. It was
Alasdair. He said Mick, Mick, port side, here I am, and then I saw him.
He was very calm and very, very professional. I know you can do it,
take command, get some help, then another wave came, and a lost him.
The skippers started to get very cold. He couldn't talk properly.
His words was Lord -- slurred and I can understand what he was saying.
And then he lost consciousness, and I had to swim dragging him behind
me. I didn't pick Alasdair of from the water, and everybody is telling
me that I couldn't, but I don't believe them. Richard and Alasdair
were pummelled by the waves and struggled to stay together.
Although the liferaft had inflated, it was out of reach of the two men.
Richard saw a light and realised that the soap wars breaking more
often and the water was getting shallow. -- the serve was breaking
more often. After struggling for nearly two hours, the two men
finally reach some rocks. By now, Richards was its -- exhausted from
Towyn Alasdair. I try to help him. I couldn't resuscitate him. I tried
to drag the skipper up the beach, but I wasn't strong enough. Mick
stayed with the boat until he was rescued by the French emergency
services. He also wondered whether services. He also wondered whether
he could have helped Alasdair more. I am still very angry with myself.
I will never know if I could make it and save him. I am depressed and
I find it hard not to cry. I feel so guilty. After searching for help
along the deserted coastline, Richard collapsed in an abandoned
building. I went back to the beach. He wasn't there? No, so I don't
know whether the tide came in, because I couldn't read come out of
the water. Alasdair's body was washed up near by. Nick never
recovered from the trauma. He died a few years later.
The yacht does not appear to have been correctly registered, a legal
requirement for any boat in international waters. We understand
another delivery company with boats in that area warned its crew to
stay in court -- in port. Alasdair's mother said there was so
much pressure that he changed his plans for Christmas. She said it
was pressure, pressure, pressure. An inquiry found Alasdair was
trying to reduce delays to the delivery, but as the skipper, was
ultimately responsible. Richard Heath says the tragedy could have
been prevented if basic equipment had been on board. In if we had
storm sails we would have been able to sail much, much better in those
conditions and would not have needed to turn back.
If we'd had a way of receiving weather forecasts, them potentially
we would have turned back much sooner when the weather was still
fairly reasonable. If we had had better charts maybe we would have
selected a port that was easier to get into. Alasdair Crawford was not
qualified to sail a boat like this offshore. It is a commercial
vessels run as a business, and as such has to be properly equipped
with a well qualified crew. A yacht been delivered for profit often
against the clock and in atrocious weather is considered to be a
pleasure craft. It is an unregulated industry.
The yachtswoman Dee Caffari knows only too well the dangers of the
profession, and that short cuts put lives at risk. By registering it as
a pleasure vessel, he could do the trip across, and once it gets to
the Caribbean, it was going to become a charter yacht and then
meet the requirements. That's just stinks of a way of not putting the
safety equipment required for an ocean passage. Reliance insist the
boat was probably equipped and compliant with all the local
regulations. It says there was adequate weather information and a
way of receiving it, and firmly denies that Alasdair was under
pressure. One of Reliance's most experienced
skippers was John Anstess. He had been a senior coxswain on a
lifeboat and had sold water running through his veins. His sister
crewed for him. To go through the bad weather we went through, out
there, incredibly calm, I had every faith in him and I said to him, why
aren't you panicking, and he said, you can panic if you like, it won't
help, but incredibly calm. It was a help, but incredibly calm. It was a
natural instinct for him, the sea, he could read it. Later that year,
Reliance contracted the Plymouth born sailor to sail the 44 ft
catamaran from Cape Town to Seattle catamaran from Cape Town to Seattle
catamaran from Cape Town to Seattle in the north-west coast of America.
Delivering other people's yachts is Delivering other people's yachts is
a great way to see the world and experienced the high seas. The crew
are often unpaid as they try to build their mileage. Canadian Paul
Webb wanted to get some more Webb wanted to get some more
Webb wanted to get some more offshore experience. Reliance came
offshore experience. Reliance came up mainly because it was fairly
well advertised on the internet, and had a reputation which are
thought was fairly good at the times. Paul flew to Trinidad where
he met John and Caspar Venter on board kopje -- cat shot. As they
voyage north the weather deteriorated. We were very close, I
think, to the Colombian coast, and we started get some change in the
weather. There were lots of thunderstorms and lightning, heavy
rain showers, three-four metre waves. The boat was getting
battered look pretty good. The best thing we could do was turn round
and head back to Rober and wait for a change in the weather. Reliance
criticised John for returning to port. John, Paul and Caspar motored
through the Panama Canal, but all three were worried about the
unpredictable weather in the final voyage to Seattle. John warned
Reliance about the storms. He wanted to wait until the weather
cleared, and suggested an alternative route, but Reliance
said he had retired attitude and was making too much of the weather.
Don't worry about it, they said. His two options were a sensible
route which was safe for both boat and crew, or to stop for those bad
winter months and actually went to the boat somewhere safe, and he was
in San Francisco. He asked Reliance if he could change route and go up
around Hawaii and avoid the hurricane, and he was flatly told,
no, the owner Will Go ballistic, you are taking too long and
dragging your heels. Paul felt safety was compromised and he and
Caspar decided to leave cat shot when they left California. I told
John I was not happy going further north at this time of the year.
John told Reliance Paul said their chances of survival were slim, a
view echoed by local sailors. John now needed two new crew to complete
He was told he had attitude because he was complaining. He was told to
tell the crew that there was nothing wrong with the weather.
John was joined by Richard Beck and Dave Rodman. Dave's wife knew that
her husband loved adventure but was safety-conscious. I can just
safety-conscious. I can just remember having a sick feeling when
I took him to the port. It was the last time I saw my husband. Dave
rang from California, and Carole thought she had no reason to worry.
I had nothing in his voice. I heard nothing from him other than the
fact that he was excited to go. He was finally going to go. I told him
to be safe, like I always did. last e-mail John had from Reliance
when he asked what the weather was like because he was having
difficulty getting it, the email accept that the weather was fine,
NICE like winds, See You In Seattle. There are three sailors missing of
the Oregon coast. The boat has been found. There is nobody there.
Coastguard found the catamaran. So the boat was destined for Seattle.
The crew was no way to be found. world fell apart. Carole has not
seen all the evidence contained in the US Coast Guard report on the
loss of Catshot and the three deaths. Before Catshot left San
Francisco, Paul Ward Reliance that the wage -- warned Reliance that
the voyage was dangerous. I was not leaving the boat on a whim, and I
put that in an e-mail to Nick Irving. I said that I did not feel
that the boat was equipped to sail the North Pacific in winter. For I
did not leave the vessel on a whim, the vessel was not equipped to
leave a -- sail safely in the North Pacific in November and December.
Asked John, it is is not a contract fee you and not 80 -- delivery,
would you do it? Would she do the voyage if he did not have a
contract? He replied then, I've not. When the skipper asked other
sailors, all indicated when they would not sail north at this time
of year. That is before David or hop on board. It was not just the
weather. There was concern about lack of equipment and the condition
of the vote. There was some major deficiencies on the boat. One of
the things was that there were no survival suits, no heat on the boat.
It had no heat. Their radar, no survival suits. In addition, the
whole had developed stress cracks. I do not know who said they saw
When the coastguard found the catamaran, they found the logbook.
The last entry was on Monday morning 160 miles south. Could this
have been avoided? Why did a seasoned skipper like John agreed
to put to sea? He has just spent half the money he had at the
beginning on fuel, provisions, her thin, Crewe, so he is out of pocket
and risking not getting paid. It is a hand two existence. I think it
was pressure from the company to force him to take that final leg up
to Seattle. There were gale-force winds back and huge seas, and that
boat is not designed for that. This is a cruising and catamaran.
report later revealed that Reliance told Richard Beckman's family not
to alert the authorities. They said everything was fine. They might
have been able to find them. Maybe they could have got to them.
Richard Beckman's body was washed up 130 miles from the boat. The
other bodies were never found. would have been a long-time friend.
You have that affinity with him? Sorry, even today, it is terrible.
Wendy says a Reliance employee admitted gave it a ignored the
warnings. These words will stay with me forever. I said to her that
he told it was unsafe, and she said yes, and we didn't listen. They
know. They knew that he was telling them that it was not safe. And that
was really the last we hear from Reliance. Now we are another five
years, and I miss him still. I miss his laugh. We are never going to
the dancing in the kitchen doing dishes any more. Somebody took that
away from me. They took it away from me. Mat Sandys-Winsch worked
for the lines as a skipper and in the office. He had a major falling-
out with his -- company and severed all ties. It was terrible. It was a
sombre place. It was not long before it was all back up and
running as Colonel well. -- as normal. I hear a huge fan and I
felt the birch -- boat lurched up and over. I could not believe this
was the way I was going to go out and nobody would know how it
You would think that after the loss of three men, Nick Irving would be
more attentive to what the crew had to say. But two months later, Mr
Irving ignored another skipper. was instructed quite bluntly to go
north of Bermuda, or do not work for us again. Aboard the catamaran
with Kevin Klinges was Steve Hobley and another man. They were
delivering the boat from France to Florida. Steve vowed that he would
be at his daughter's wedding in the States. He promised me that he
would be it at wedding. The French built catamaran was heading for
Fort Lauderdale at what should have been an easy passing. Five days out
of Madeira, and Steve got a text message. It said that they wanted
to change our course to Maryland. I was confused that anybody would
want us to sail to Mary and at that time of year. He did not want to do
it for the reason that this high pressure that sits with the trade
winds for being underneath, that has it depressions going across the
top of it. They fuel our winter weather as they travel across the
Atlantic and give us our all wind and rain and cold. We have the warm
Gulf Stream coming up. We have the Labrador current coming down. The
need here. That difference in temperature fuels and generates
more energy and they get more vicious. The route he was
instructed to take was north of Bermuda, which is a completely
different ball game. Basically, he had gone from the perfectly of
delivery route to being told to sail in two... Yes, bad weather.
Steve did not want to divert. It was a bad time of year to head
north. Was history about to repeat itself? They basically held at over
his head. If you do not change course and go to and a palace, and
if you decide to go on to Fort Lauderdale, we might not have
another job for you. instructions came from Reliance
back in Farnborough, but Steve got his weather information from his
children. Dad had to get his own satellite phone, even down to
training Jonathan and I to plot the weather on the internet with his
position and their text in important things that were coming
up in the weather. Things that a yacht company should have been day.
I was not a professional. catamaran capsized 200 miles from
Bermuda in 45 ft waves and Jared Payne forced winds. Steve was
becoming hypothermic. I heard him talking to his mum. It was strange.
It was sad. The notion seemed to get more aggressive. -- Ocean. And
then I was thrown off the hull with Steve. He landed on me and his head
was staring right into my face. He was underneath the water, with his
navigate and his eyes wide open. He had died and I was going to try
everything I could to give his family his body, give them
something. If I could do that. Another wave came and blue was of
the boat and I climbed back on and that holds an order for seven I
eight Jansch and there was just a lifejacket. And with my strobe
light flashing through the water, I could see Steve's face and he was
looking up at me like this... His eyes were closed and with each
blinking successive Light, he was three or four feet underneath the
water, then five or six feet, and then the last I saw him he was
around 12 feet underneath the water. He slipped into the darkness and I
came back on board. Having nothing back of debt, it leaves a wound,
like somebody has just walked out of your life. They have an appeal
for women you I in mid-conversation. It is the most awful thing.
hours after the capsize, Kevin and on the were rescued. Mat Sandys-
Winsch claims that Nick Irving gave the fatal order. I have to live
with the knowledge that I could have helped him. I could have done
something. I could have changed the course of events. But it is have to
live with it. I am Nick Irving, the director of Reliance. I want to
show you some of the extraordinary lengths we go to to prepare abodes
for delivery. We have evidence that Mr Irving lied to insurance
companies about his skippers? Experience. He had relished CVs to
shown lots of deliveries. He tripled the skipper's actual
experience. Experience can only be gained by miles that you have, but
it shows. If you have not done the miles, it shows by mistakes or not
knowing things. To enhance somebody's mileage in that position
of responsibility when they have not had that experience is a
shocking thing to do. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency asked the
Crown Prosecution Service to whether a criminal proceedings
would follow. Because Catshot was the registered abroad, they are
powerless. Reliance was sued and won. The result was damning. He has
got five deaths on his hands. I do not know how Nick Irving sees at
night. Nick Irving refused to the interview. In a state and, he said
his business had completed thousands of deliveries. He said
his skippers are highly professionals and gives them a 24
hour support. I want to ask you about the deaths of five sailors.
Why I put in so much pressure on them to say on every they did not
want to. I have answered all those questions with your producer.
owe it to the families of the sailors and skippers who lost their
husbands, brothers. The losses are great. I cannot make up for that.
But I do respond to those questions and I have answered them as best
they can. Please put any further questions in writing. We did put it
in writing, and he denied pressuring the skippers. He ignored
specific questions, so we gave him one last chance to defend himself.
Sending e-mails like this, saying that it was unsafe... And have
answered those questions to your producer. It is here and black-and-
white that you put unfair pressure on the skippers. That is your
opinion, not mine. We offered to show Mr Irving how he was avoiding
our questions. I have got your answers here. Put it in writing. I
am happy to respond in writing. asked to write a CV as well? Why
did you falsified a skipper's experience on ECB? That is
dangerous. He has been found liable in four civil cases that has failed
to pay damages as ordered. Four times a court has taught you to pay.
Why had he not done that? If a court has ruled that you should
pay... The court has ruled against the company. Which you run. Yes, I
was director at the time. Let us finish this here. Any to get back.
Have you got anything to say to the relatives of the skippers that were
lost at sea because of your actions and your company's actions?
have got something to say to them and it is personal and it will be
to them directly and not in a public arena. Boasted South found
that Nick Irving's silence speaks volumes. We had a memorial party.
send an e-mail to the office to see if anyone wanted to come and pay