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Sink or swim? The perils of pleasure boat trips

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I couldn't help but notice the publicity generated by last week's incident in Liverpool where the famed "Yellow Duckmarine" amphibious tourist vehicle "Quacker 1" took on submarine tendencies by sinking in the Albert Dock.  31 people, including children, were on board the craft when it sank, and 18 were taken to the Royal Liverpool Hospital with minor injuries, although all have since been discharged.
An eyewitness reported that it took only 4 minutes for the vessel to sink, however emergency services were on the scene very quickly and all passengers were accounted for.  This is the second incident of this type this year involving the Yellow Duckmarines, and all vessels have now been moved to a secure location pending investigation, and consultation with the Merseyside Police and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
This highly publicised incident comes on the back of other perhaps less widely covered incidents, including the sinking of a boat, the "Lady Helen" in May this year, off the coast of Pembrokeshire.  That vessel was carrying 48 people on a pleasure cruise around Skomer Island when it hit rocks, causing RNLI lifeboats from surrounding villages to be scrambled along with a Police boat and an RAF helicopter.  All passengers were successfully transferred to other vessels, but no doubt this was a terrifying experience for the families on board.
As recently as last week, another sea cruiser sank in the River Humber, where it was on a "cruise with company" outing with other vessels.  The boat hit a large buoy which gashed a hole in the hull of the Sea Eagle.  The two crew members were assisted off the vessel and transferred onto another boat, however, the vehicle sank, and this is also the source of an investigation by the MCA.
Living on an island which is famed for many beautiful coastlines, the British flock to seaside resorts in the summer months, and a pleasure cruise, or fishing trip seems like the ideal day out for holidaymakers. However, as most of us are likely to have no experience in judging whether a vessel seems seaworthy, we put our faith in the crews of those vessels.  It is always worth checking that a vehicle or boat tour is fully insured and also checking any emergency strategy that they have in place, should the unthinkable happen.
By personal injury executive, Pauline Smith