Skipper and company director face several charges of safety breaches under the Merchant Shipping Act

Photo: RNLI Coastguard

The start of a five-day trial began yesterday at Southampton Crown Court. Charges relating to safety breaches under the Merchant Shipping Act have been made against director of Hot Liquid Sailing Ltd, Jason Manning (36), and Liquid Vortex skipper, Charles Sturrock (50). Both men deny the charges.

In January this year five novice sailors paid to sail from Southampton to London, on board Liquid Vortex, to arrive for the start of the London Boat Show 2012. Unfortunately a storm hit the boat hours into the trip, forcing the RNLI to mount a rescue mission.

Sturrock set sail from Shamrock Quay on the River Itchen, Southampton on Monday 2 January. When the RNLI reached the yacht, the following morning, they were off the coast of Kent. One crew member had been thrown overboard, another was injured and several were suffering with seasickness.

At the height of the storm, in the early hours of Tuesday 3 January, gusts were reaching 50 knots in some places along the south coast.

Sturrock 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. Manning denies three charges relating to checking weather forecasts, standard operating procedures and failing to contact HM Coastguard. The trial continues.

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