Seahorse Likely To Return To Water Next Season

The Seahorse

The St Mary’s passenger boat, The Seahorse, should return to the water next season.

Operator Stephen Hicks threatened to sell up in September after the Maritime and Coastguard Agency placed a prohibition notice on the boat following a spot inspection in August.

The MCA is unhappy with holding boats on a single line when the engine is running. They believe it’s dangerous and suggest using at least two lines.

Critics say that those extra ropes would create trip hazards, waste time and would not work with our islands’ quays.

One objector compared MCA rope guidance to macramé.

On Tuesday, two MCA officials met with boatmen from all of the islands. The officials said future concerns with be discussed with operators first, instead of issuing immediate bans as happened to Steve. All boats will need to complete a risk assessment, though.

St Mary’s Harbourmaster Dale Clark says the MCA just want boatmen to show they have addressed passenger safety.

Dale says the individual operators need to prove that their methods are the safest possible. And that means there’s also an obligation on the Duchy as the quay owner, to ensure that the correct fixtures are available to the boats.

Securing lines using hooks is another sticking point. Whilst there is no legislation outlawing it, the MCA explained that a judge urged against the practice, making it difficult to argue the legal opinion.

Dale says Scilly’s boatmen are not being singled-out. Operators all over the country are being asked to show that they have carried out risk assessments.

Some boatmen felt they had not been kept in the loop about changes to regulations but the MCA claim that Scilly has a seat on their discussion forum. The boatmen’s representative had not attended, though.

Another boatman has offered to attend the London meeting to ensure islanders are kept informed about changing restrictions.


2 Responses to Seahorse Likely To Return To Water Next Season

  1. steveatt December 21, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Chris – 5% failure rate causing endangerment to public. Thats 1 in 20. Given that rate and approx 50 or so uses by St Marys boatmen assoc a day that would be 2-3 failures a day. An acceptable hazardous rate in aircraft industry is 1 in 10,000,000. A survey says that acceptable risk for a percieved non-risk activity (catching a boat) is 1 in 10,000 and the acceptable risk of death is 1 in 1,000,000.
    The MCA are asking that the risk of single ropes is mitigated – pointing out there is a history of safe usage will help and that a failure would be benign will really help.
    I hope common sense prevails and that boats are operating as usual – but I do get fed up with people quoting stats and facts that aren’t true!

  2. Chris (John) Lintern December 20, 2012 at 11:38 am

    Once again the mighty MCA are pushing good boat handlers around. The problem here is that the MCA has to prove they are God. The reality is that a greater percentage of their so called expert opinions are rubbish. Having seen MCA boatmen on the water I am amazed they are allowed to operate let alone give guidance and objections. Surely the answer to this question is ‘How many times have single ropes failed and endangered members of the public in the last twenty years?’ A significant percentage would be roughly 5%. I doubt there is a single proper boatmen anywhere that does not secure using a single breast rope when stopping for short periods. I hope Steve Hicks defies the MCA who once again are showing what civil servants do for a living.