Bomb squad called to deal with leaky flares

Coastguards have dubbed a trouble-prone yachtsman ‘Captain Calamity’ after his 25ft Tristar trimaran was rescued twice. Skipper Anthony Woodford, 52, also had flares on board that were so out of date they were dangerous and could have exploded. The Coastguard called in a bomb disposal team who found 12 deterioating flares.

Woodford has now been banned from setting sail by his local harbourmaster, Chris Spencer of Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset.

The drama began when the Star of Burnham was located by an RAF Rescue Helicopter and was subsequently towed by Ilfracombe RNLI lifeboat on Sunday night. Due to poor weather conditions the tow was taken over by Barry Dock lifeboat and the trimaran was towed into Barry with two persons on board.

Rescuers found Woodford and his crew Chris Gregory,35, were without suitable lifejackets, flares, charts or a proper radio.

Two days later Woodford contacted Swansea Coastguard to say he had set sail again to head back to Burnham-on-Sea but had grounded the vessel on mudflats off the Burnham coast. Burnham-on-Sea Coastguard Rescue Team again towed him in.

Authorities had to turn out for a third time to alert the Royal Logistics Corps bomb disposal team to deal with his leaky flares.

Swansea Coastguard Watch Manager Steve Jones said:

‘When the Star of Burnham was towed into Barry dock on Sunday night it was found to be without lifejackets, flares, charts or a VHF radio on board. It is irresponsible enough to go out on the water without sufficient maritime knowledge, but it is ludicrous to set off not only without any experience but also without any of the appropriate safety equipment on board.

This Captain Calamity figure has cost the time and effort of lifeboat and helicopter crews and Coastguard Rescue Teams on two occasions in two days. We hope that this second experience will serve as a reminder to both the vessel owner and members of the public to ensure that you do not take on marine leisure activities that are beyond your comfort zone and capabilities and to always carry the relevant safety equipment on board whenever you set out onto the water.’

Woodford is the third sailor to have been dubbed with the dubious title ‘Captain Calamity,’ in the last two years.