Mean Machine gets booked

At a hearing today at Folkestone Magistrates, Dirk De Ridder, skipper of the racing yacht Mean Machine, was fined £6000 and £4200 costs for going the wrong way up a traffic lane in the Dover Straits Traffic Separation Scheme.

On 13th May 2007 the racing yacht Mean Machine was on a positioning voyage from Portsmouth, UK to Scheveningen, Netherlands prior to taking part in a race. At about 1850 the Mean Machine was detected slowly entering the South West lane on a heading of 055°t. She then proceeded for 6.5 miles in the wrong direction in the South West lane, contrary to Rule 10(b)(i) of the Colregs.

The yacht’s plan had been to follow the separation line/zone between the South West lane and Inshore traffic Zone very closely. De Ridder failed to realise that wind shifts would cause him the problems which they ultimately did.

Soon after gybing it should have become apparent to De Ridder that his course was taking him into the South West lane. Mean Machine passed close ahead of a crossing vessel before passing between two South West bound vessels.

Mean Machine was identified by a passing merchantman. Dover CNIS contacted Mean Machine by radio. The yacht then altered course and crossed the South West lane at right angles as required by rule 10 of the Colregs.

Mr Mike Toogood, CNIS Manager at Dover Coastguard, stated Mean Machine was crewed by nine people. If the yachts position had been better monitored then the vessel drift into the South West lane would have been quickly detected. Also by being so tight to South West lane he was asking for trouble. The results of his action were totally foreseeable.

Safety in the Dover Straits Traffic Separation Scheme is dependant on all vessels, no matter what shape size or description, closely following the requirements of rule 10 of the Colregs.