Rowing gig with children on board capized due to 'freak wave'

Rowing gig with children on board capized due to 'freak wave'

Published by Maria Greenwood at 7:22am 5th December 2019.

A safety review has been carried out after the capsize of a local gig which led to children ending up in the sea and two parents being treated in hospital.

The incident initially involved six children and two adults off West Beach at West Bay.

Two other parents swam from the shore to help.

Harbour Master James Radcliffe said the Bridport Gig Rowing Club activities were suspended after the incident while a review of its safety policy was carried out.

He told the Dorset Council harbours committee on Wednesday in Dorchester that rowing would now resumed after checks around VHF radio equipment, lifejackets and a discussion about rowing in a defined area.

storm waves sea

'Freak wave'

The harbour master said it appeared that the gig had capsized as a result of a freak wave which had resulted in an excess of water in the boat and the youngsters and two adults with them swimming to shore. Two parents had swum from shore to reach them.

Bridport Gig Rowing Club safety officer John Simmons said after the incident that nothing like it had happened in the club’s 11-year history. He said that everyone had been wearing lifejackets.

Volunteer lifeboat crew, paramedics and coastguards from West Bay and Lyme Regis treated some of the gig rowers and two adults were taken to hospital by the ambulance service.

Weymouth Lifeboat

'Safety recommendations'

Mr Radcliffe said:

"All occupants including the parents that entered the water were treated by paramedics.

"The two parents were taken to hospital and discharged later the same day.

"The accident raised concerns for safety so the club’s health and safety officer along with myself agreed the club would stop going to sea while all safety procedures and operations were checked.  

"I have made recommendations to the club which they are taking on board and implementing and following a full cox’s briefing they will be back out on the water.  

"The recommendations included life jackets to be worn and fitted correctly, VHF radios to be on and checked and a defined operating area."

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter