Details of Yacht Delivery Deaths from 2006 Revealed

This story is a pertinent reminder that safety should be the number one deciding factor before heading out to sea, no matter how many dollars are at stake.

A vastly experienced yacht skipper died alongside two of his crew after being pressured into sailing into atrocious weather, court documents have revealed.

Skipper John Anstess, Dave Rodman and Richard Beckman died in December 2006 when their catamaran was wrecked in a storm off the northwest coast of the United States.

Mr. Anstess, 55, was skippering the 44 ft. catamaran Catshot for yacht delivery company Reliance Yacht Management, based in Farnborough, Hampshire, United Kingdom.

Despite his warnings about the weather, outlining an alternative route and suggesting they lay up in San Diego for the winter, he was pressured into continuing. The three were killed when the catamaran capsized during a massive storm. Mr. Anstess’s body was never recovered.

His sister Wendy Wood successfully sued the company for negligence in September 2010, details of which have only just been made public.

“In my judgment in this case Reliance’s intervention and the pressure put on the skipper were directly causative of the loss of the ship and the lives of the crew,” Admiralty Registrar Robert Jervis Kay said. “In all the circumstances I do not think that it would be fair to make a finding of contributory negligence against Mr. Anstess and I decline to do so.”

Mr. Anstess, who never married, served in the army in South Africa, later taking up sailing.

Mrs. Wood said, “His life was the sea. If there had been an accident and he had died, we could have accepted that, but this was totally unnecessary. It has devastated the family. It is something you just don’t get over. There has been no closure because his body was never found.”

Details of the case emerged from an investigation by BBC Inside Out South that recently aired.

It claimed that Reliance pressured skippers to sail into bad weather against their better judgment, costing three boats and five lives.

Two months before Mr. Anstess was killed, skipper Steve Hobley died after the 38 ft.  catamaran he was delivering was overwhelmed by 45 ft. waves and capsized.

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