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Stromness seaman’s ‘fatal error of judgement’

A Stromness man who died when his boat capsized in Hoy Sound in 2007, made a “fatal error of judgement”, a sheriff has ruled.

Mr Alec Moar, 23, was lost at sea when his boat capsized in Hoy Sound in the early hours of Saturday, June 16, 2007, and his family have always maintained the emergency services did not respond quickly enough.

Following a fatal accident inquiry, Sheriff Valerie Johnston said: “After careful consideration of all of the evidence I conclude that Mr Moar, a young man with a seafaring background, made a fatal error of judgement.

“I am unable to say with any certainty that his judgement was materially impaired by excessive consumption of alcohol but alcohol consumption was a contributory factor.”

She continued: “He did not wear a life jacket, he did not have a life jacket, a survival suit, a spare engine with independent fuel source or a VHF radio on board. He did have a good selection of flares, a spare tank of fuel and a mobile phone.

“Although he had earlier spoken to friends about going to a party on Hoy he left without advising anyone that he was sailing or of his destination.

“He was aware of the dangerous nature of the stretch of sea he was entering.”

The sheriff said, in hindsight, the delay in requesting the launch of the lifeboat was open to criticism given the close proximity of the sighting to a harbour and the lifeboat station itself.

However, she added: “In the sudden, catastrophic circumstances that befell Mr Moar, I believe that the delay was unlikely to have made any material difference to the outcome for him.”