LETTER: Lone sailors off watch

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The Independent Online
Sir: While Ellen MacArthur's latest round-the-world bid ended in success, I wonder how she managed to complete this while breaking international law.

The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea clearly state: "Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper lookout by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision."

Nowhere in these rules is there a section which allows you to break them if you are on a solo round-the-world bid. There are reports that she had no more than four hours' sleep per day, but during these four hours there is no way she could be keeping a lookout by sight. I am a merchant navy officer and have seen many of my professional colleagues fined or indeed facing jail sentences for failing to keep a proper lookout.

These are the same people who would have to risk their lives in a rescue attempt if these solo yachtspersons get into difficulties.


Chirnside, Berwickshire