Skipper had diabetic episode while novice was at helm


The risks “must have been obvious’’ and could have been avoided, a judge told Mark Young. (File photo)

George Heard/Stuff

The risks “must have been obvious’’ and could have been avoided, a judge told Mark Young. (File photo)

A skipper who had a diabetic episode while letting a novice steer his boat has admitted a maritime charge after it ran on to rocks on Lake Wakatipu.

Mark Anthony Young was fined $1000, and ordered to pay $1000 to the scalded victim, also meet his physio costs, and pay $500 for emotional harm to another person, when he appeared in the Invercargill District Court on Thursday.

He had earlier made a $2500 donation to the coastguard.

Young admitted a Maritime NZ charge that on November 27, 2021 he operated the 8.5m craft C-Works, on a fishing trip with friends and work colleagues, in a way that caused unnecessary danger or risk.

He was a skipper of 45 years’ experience but at times that day had three times let others take the helm. One, who had never controlled a craft that size and was steering when it hit the rocks.

Young had engaged the second motor because conditions had a become more choppy, with waves of about 1m. This raised the speed to 7 knots, the slowest the craft could idle under both, about 20m from shore.

At that point he had started to feel unwell from low blood sugar. It was after midday and he had not eaten since 4.30am. Others on board had been trying to find him something sweet when the boat, with its inexperienced passenger steering, struck the rocks.

Four people suffered some injury, the most serious of which was to Doug Bath, suffered a scalded left foot from oil spilled from fish that were being deep-fried on board.

In his victim impact report he said his foot had been scarred and during the recovery had affected his ability to walk, work and earn money. The impact had extended to his family, from whom he had received tremendous support.

Young’s lawyer Brian Nathan said the incident had been “truly an accident’’. Essentially, the skipper had been attending to so many matters that morning he had neglected his own health.

The effects of his low blood sugar meant that, although he hadn’t lost consciousness, he had lost awareness.

Judge Bernadette Farnan said the risks Young was running “must have been obvious and could have been relatively easily avoided’’ but she accepted the level of culpability was at the bottom of the scale.

Maritime NZ general regulatory operations manager John Drury said after the trial that the skipper had three times allowed passengers to take control of the vessel and had not provided proper supervision.

”As a skipper, if you are passing over control, you should always be sure that they have the capability, knowledge and understanding to safely manage the vessel.

“Any skipper should be aware of how the vessel is managed and the skills of those in charge. He needed to supervise, monitor and instruct those in charge of the vessel.’’

Young had acknowledged having three nips of whiskey and a small tequila during the morning.

“Skippers need to understand the impacts of alcohol and their health conditions when planning journeys,’’ Drury said.