Thursday, February 8, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Local Skipper Fined $15,000 For 2022 Charter Disaster

Private sailing charter company, Waltzing Matilda, and its skipper has been charged $15,000 following a three-day charter which saw the classic sailing yacht without adequate supervision, drifting away with passengers onboard in November 2022.

The charter boat had been hired for a 21st birthday celebration which ended in disaster when the skipper disembarked the vessel to venture to Hill Inlet, leaving some of its 13 passengers alone on the vessel.

The court found the vessel had been improperly secured, and drifted away, while the skipper, from his position on land, yelled instructions to the passengers on how to return the boat to shore.

Once on board again, the skipper turned the boat to Whitehaven Beach, however, it became grounded on some rocks.

The passengers escaped to a nearby tender, and the court heard how the skipper told them he did not want to call the Volunteer Marine Rescue for assistance.

The Australia Maritime Safety Authority stated that, "The skipper also failed to provide the required standard of lifejackets for the passengers, failed to properly secure the tender to the main vessel to ensure it would not drift away and allowed multiple safety violations to occur during the grounding.”

"The magistrate noted in court that the grounding would have been terrifying for the passengers on board," AMSA said.

The skipper was also operating the vessel without proper certifications, “assuming the role of master without the proper qualifications and reckless operation of the vessel which, amongst a litany of other serious safety issues, led to the vessel grounding near Hook Passage in the Whitsundays,” according to AMSA.

The skipper was charged with three offences under the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012, and was also charged for failure to pay the fines related to the incident.

The skipper also failed to appear at the Proserpine Magistrates Court for the hearing.

Waltzing Matilda Charter skipper fined $15,000. Photo supplied

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