24 Jun 2013
'White Cloud' captain faces legal charges
The 65m motoryacht anchored in the Turks and Caicos islands on 28 March, in an area which the ex-captain was informed to be the “preferred large yacht anchorage” on the North West side of Providenciales. The yacht’s anchor dragged due to high winds. Subsequently, damage to the surrounding coral reef and sea bed ocurred. On 1 April the yacht’s anchorage was reported by the Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA). According to other media reports, Kathleen Woods, director of DEMA, has accused the captain of lacking the permit to anchor in the region.
Charges initially faced the yacht’s engineer, as well as its then-captain, but since the charges against the yacht’s engineer have been dropped. The ex-captain faces four charges: one concerning anchoring a vessel over 60 feet outside of the National Park Authorities Commission; the other three charges relate to damaging the coral and the sea bed.
At the time of the incident, White Cloud had one engine out of operation and is the reason why the yacht's then-captain claimed he would not move the boat, having been asked to do so by DEMAA. “Myself, the first officer and the engineer decided that if wind was anything above fifteen knots it would be unsafe to move the boat,” explained the captain. When the yacht was asked to move by DEMA, the captain highlighted this and referred to the authority of a yacht’s master as outlined in SOLAS. The winds on the day of the incident were above a consistent 20 knots and gusting as high as 32 knots, said the ex-captain.
The ex-captain has since been in discussions with Woods, in a bid to improve the situation and help repair any damage done. “I went into the meeting and said, ‘We know there has been some damage caused and we deeply regret that’s happened; and we want to work with you to help fix or remedy it,’” the captain told The Crew Report.
However, speaking with The Crew Report, the captain of White Cloud was adamant that better systems need to be in place to stop these types of incidents happening again, as it did in such quick success with superyacht Milk and Honey. “Obviously there is going to be a fine on me at some stage, and I said if possible I’d like some of the funds to go towards better publications and information for visiting yachtsmen about anchorage and clearing, and also to establishing large vessel mooring seals so that we don’t have to anchor.”
The captain of White Cloud has spoken in detail with The Crew Report about the investigation and a plethora of problems surrounding it. After the trial has come to a close, The Crew Report will publish an interview with the yacht’s captain about the intricacies of this investigation.
The yacht's owners were not on board at the time of the incident and White Cloud is now under a new captain who has no involvement in the investigation.
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