Lowestoft: Report on tragic sea deaths of three friends – Andrew Porter, Peter Chambers and Malcolm Sayer – concludes the men had “little experience” of operating a boat

The speedboat which was recovered by coastguards and the fire service water rescue team.

The speedboat which was recovered by coastguards and the fire service water rescue team. - Credit: Archant

The chances of three men surviving when their fishing boat capsized off the Suffolk coast would have “significantly improved” had they been wearing life jackets and thermal suits, an accident report has concluded.

On March 10 at 10.15am, friends Andrew Porter, 46, Peter Chambers, 43, and Malcolm Sayer, 79, left Great Yarmouth harbour in Mr Porter’s speedboat to recover fishing equipment laid the day before about a half-mile off Corton, near Lowestoft.

But less than four hours later the coastguard was called when the 5.7metre Bayliner Capri 2000 boat was seen capsized about 100metres from Lowestoft.

The body of Mr Chambers, who was wearing a buoyancy aid, was discovered near Lowestoft’s Ness Point. But despite an extensive search the bodies of the other two were not found.

A Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) report concluded the crew had “little experience” of operating a boat and were unlikely to have expected the sea conditions to deteriorate.

It added the men were “ill-equipped” to deal with the disaster when it happened – all three of the men were not wearing life jackets and thermal flotation suits – and the shock of being thrown into the 6C (43F) water would have likely to have been fatal for Mr Porter and Mr Sayer, who did not have buoyancy aids, the report added.

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The report said: “In summary, although Mr Chambers’ buoyancy aid would have helped him survive the initial effects of cold shock, it would have ceased to be effective after only a few minutes once he lost the ability to keep himself upright.

“All three men’s chances of survival would have been significantly improved had they been wearing life jackets and thermal suits.”

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The report states that rope from the fishing gear, which was being recovered from the sea, may have stopped the propeller working. Lowered down by the equipment the boat faced increasing wind speeds and waves reaching around two metres.

The waves would have began coming over the boat reducing its stability which would have led to it capsizing, the report added.

Apart from mobile telephones, the crew had no means of raising the alarm – with no evidence to suggest the boat had flares or a distress beacon equipped.

Since the tragedy the MAIB has written to sea angling publications, calling on them to promote the safety lessons learnt from the accident.

Safety information is also available on its website.

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