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GOING ALOFT




TS Royalist

Today's Press Release folder brought the news report of a shipboard death. It is always sad too read of such things and most particularly when it is a young trainee in our trade and industry. A 14 year old Sea Cadet fell from aloft in Stokes Bay, Gosport, Hampshire. The vessel TS Royalist was at anchor and he was climbing the rigging to furl sail. He was rescued from the water immediately by the vessel's crew and transported to hospital by Solent Coastguard helo. Unfortunately he was DOA at Queen Alexandria Hospital in Portsmouth. An Investigation is of course underway by The Marine Accident Investigation Unit and the Hampshire Constabulary. This is TS Royalist's first accident since being commissioned in 1971.

In a career at sea we have been aloft hundreds of times, it is always a risky business and though NAUTICAL LOG foolishly never used one, a safety rig must be used. In a power driven vessel it is even more important as there is no rigging at all. In a sailing vessel there are many handholds in the rigging which is basically designed to go aloft. However the hands and feet can slip particularly when it is a young cadet in training - or an old guy of 74.

It is not easy to design a safety rig when one has to handle sail and not get caught up in the rigging. However it can and must be done. On my last visit to the USCGC Eagle, the United States Coast Guard sail training vessel, there was such a rig in place and all hands went aloft with that 'second chance' rig on in case they lost their grip.

We express our condolences to the Cadet's family and were honoured to have him for a shipmate in the time he was with us.

Good Watch.

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