Scuppered skipper wins claim

Posted: 17th November 2014

YachtsA businessman has won damages of almost £500,000 from bespoke boat builders after his newly-purchased luxury yacht ran aground and sank whilst he holidayed with his family in Majorca.

The 60-foot vessel, which was only 10 months old, was manoeuvring at slow speed when disaster struck. The businessman was skippering the yacht, with his wife and son on board, when her hull was catastrophically breached. They had to abandon ship and the yacht was subsequently salvaged by divers and shipped back to England for repairs which cost more than £450,000.

The businessman sued the yacht’s builders – a highly respected company which makes between two and six yachts every year for discerning clients. He argued that the vessel was not of 'reasonably satisfactory quality' and that it was unfit for its intended purpose as a luxury pleasure craft.

The company conceded that the yacht had not been built entirely to contractual specification in that part of its laminate hull was thinner than it should have been. However, it argued that that had 'made no difference' and that the yacht would have sunk on grounding in any event.

Ruling in the businessman’s favour, the High Court found that, had the hull been of the correct thickness, it would not have fractured as it did. He and the yacht’s co-owner were awarded most of the repair costs, as well as damages for being deprived of the use of the vessel and other losses. The total award came to about £490,000.