RECORD OF INVESTIGATION INTO DEATH
Coroners Act 1995
Coroners Regulations 1996
I, Stephen Raymond Carey, Coroner, having investigated the death of
ARTHUR JOHN BUDD
WITHOUT HOLDING AN INQUEST
a) The identity of the deceased is Arthur John Budd (Mr Budd) who died in the sea in the vicinity of Lagoon Beach at Sloping Main in Tasmania on 7 April 2012.
b) Mr Budd was born at Hobart, Tasmania on 27 December 1945 and was aged 66 years at the time of his death.
c) Mr Budd was a retired builder.
d) Mr Budd has died as a result of drowning.
Circumstances Surrounding the Death:
Mr Budd had experience in building marine vessels and also had over forty years of sailing experience. He had constructed his own vessel the “Shy Alba”, a 16.5 metre steel sailing cruiser. The vessel was in a very good condition and well built.
Mr Budd and his wife, Yoshiko Terry Budd, had boarded their vessel on the morning of 6 April 2012 and travelled to the Tasman Peninsula arriving at the Sloping Main area at approximately 1700 hours on 6 April 2012. Mr Budd has set anchor in an area of water between Sloping Island and Lagoon Beach, approximately 150 metres from the beach. At this time the weather was fine, with no wind and calm water.
At approximately 0300 hours the next morning the weather has changed to produce strong south westerly wind blowing at approximately 60 knots. Waves were at a height of approximately 2 metres and it was raining heavily. The weather change was sudden and unexpected.
At approximately 0500 hours Mr Budd has gone to the wheelhouse of the vessel concerned that the vessel was being dragged ashore. As a result of the sudden change in weather the vessel had turned side on and the waves were impacting heavily with the side of the vessel. Mr Budd has attempted to move the vessel to counteract the vessel’s change in position. Mr Budd has then attempted to draw in the anchor using the hydraulic winch as the anchor had been dragged under the vessel. This attempt was not successful as the anchor chain had come off the rollers at the bow of the vessel. Mr Budd has moved to the bow area and tried to pull the anchor chain back onto the rollers, but could not do this. Mr Budd then had the vessel in reverse attempting to move away from the beach whilst attempting to take pressure off the anchor chain. This also did not work so Mr Budd placed the boat in neutral and allowed it to run in line with the anchor chain. Mr Budd has then moved outside the wheelhouse and was on the side of the vessel moving away from his wife when the boat suddenly jerked to the side in a rolling action. Mr Budd stumbled hitting the side railing with his legs and grabbed onto the rails. The vessel has continued rolling and Mr Budd has fallen over the edge. He managed to hold onto the railing for a period of time but eventually let go and fell into the water. His wife witnessed his fall, describing that when she observed this she was screaming and did not know what to do. She was moving towards Mr Budd when his final hand has slipped off the railing and he entered the water. Mrs Budd shone the torch she was holding onto the water, but as the water was so rough and with driving wind and rain, she could not see anything. She yelled out to her husband but did not receive a reply. Mrs Budd attempted to manoeuvre vessel for a period but then became concerned that she might run over her husband. She also realised that she was merely spinning the boat around so placed the engine in neutral. She continued running outside the wheelhouse yelling out to her husband and at this time also made a mayday call on the marine radio. When she was asked to provide a position she replied describing in the area of Sloping Main but she then heard a second vessel that was also in that area give an exact location. After this she then tried to turn off the engines so that she could hear her husband if he was yelling out to her, but she couldn’t manage to do this until sometime later. By this time the boat was fully on the beach. She then became aware of a helicopter in the area that was apparently looking for her husband. Mrs Budd advised that during the entire incident neither herself nor her husband were wearing a life jacket.
Mr Ian Marshall and his fiancé, Susan Jack, were aboard a yacht “Hot Prospect” that was anchored in the same area as “Shy Alba”. They confirm that when they went to bed that evening at approximately 2230 hours the weather was mild with a reasonably smooth water and light winds. At approximately 0310 hours they awoke as the anchor alarm had gone off showing that they were dragging their anchor towards the beach. Mr Marshall has started the engine, gone to the bow to let out more anchor but was unsuccessful in manoeuvring his vessel away from the beach as they hit the beach running aground. They described the weather change as severe with the wind changing from a north easterly direction to a strong south westerly blowing at approximately 60 knots. They observed the “Shy Alba” in difficulty near them and were able to provide radio communication to the Search and Rescue personnel guiding them to their location.
Police Search and Rescue resources were activated at approximately 6 am on 7 April 2012 as a result of a mayday call being received and the description of two vessels aground at Sloping Main beach. At that stage advice was that a person was missing from one of those vessels. The Search and Rescue helicopter was authorised and it was in the air travelling to Sloping Main at approximately 6.24 am. Upon arrival it was noted that two vessels were approximately 200 metres apart, both were on the sand with water pounding against their hulls. The police helicopter conducted a search of the water to the west of the vessels and beach. Whilst searching the coastline from the northern end of Lagoon beach towards the southern end a body was sighted in the water. The body was approximately 50 metres from the shore in the breaking surf. Senior Constable Chris Williams was winched from the helicopter into the water; he disconnected from the winch and swum/waded to the body. He secured the body noting from his observation that the person was deceased. He dragged the body through the surf and up onto the sand. Police personnel then took various steps to secure the safety of the other persons involved.
The autopsy findings were of a well developed well nourished adult Caucasian man without significant natural disease. There were only superficial abrasions and abraded contusions of the forehead and body, there were no significant blunt injuries and there were no suspicious defensive or restraint-type injuries. The airways contained copious pulmonary oedema froth and the lungs were hyper-expanded; findings consistent with drowning.
As a result of the investigation conducted I am satisfied that there were no suspicious circumstances in relation to Mr Budd’s death which was as a result of a tragic accident.
Comments and Recommendations:
Although it is not a legal requirement to wear personal floatation devices on vessels the size of the “Shy Alba”, this tragic death illustrates the need to do so in adverse weather or other conditions in which persons are at risk of entering the water. I would recommend that all persons involved in recreational boating, no matter what size the vessel is they are using, consider the safety benefit of wearing a personal floatational device, (even a “yoke style”) in circumstances such as this where they are on deck on the vessel and the movements and actions of the vessel are being impacted by the conditions with the behaviour of the vessel being unpredictable.
Before I conclude I wish to convey my sincere condolences to the family of Mr Budd.
Dated: 13 day of February, 2013.
Stephen Raymond Carey