Page last updated at 11:36 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 12:36 UK

Skipper fined for drunken sailing

George Wood
George Wood and his crew had to be helped to safety

A drunk skipper who had to be rescued when his boat ran aground on a beach has been fined £1,000.

George Wood, 52, was found to be more than twice the legal alcohol limit after his boat was stranded on a beach near Filey, North Yorkshire, in August.

Wood, of Treebank Crescent, Ayr, had spent the previous night celebrating his birthday with friends and family in Scarborough, York Crown Court heard.

Wood, who has a string of maritime convictions, has since lost his job.

The court heard the crew of seven on board the Peterhead-registered Honeybourne III was rescued by a passing fishing vessel and the coastguard.

The shame you must feel having allowed your vessel to go aground one can only imagine
Judge James Spencer QC

Wood, a scallop fisherman, was found to have 81 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath, more than twice the legal limit of 35 microgrammes.

One of Wood's previous maritime convictions, travelling the wrong way down the English Channel, resulted in a £3,000 fine.

His other convictions include failing to keep a proper log book, excessive use of a dredger and failing to notify his arrival at port.

'Serious matter'

The court heard Wood lost his job after he admitted being over the prescribed limit while in charge of a boat at a previous court hearing.

He will now face a further disciplinary hearing to determine whether he can keep his certificate of competency, the equivalent of a driving licence.

The court heard Wood was carrying out an anchor training exercise with his crew when the tide took him to the shore and he ran aground.

Judge James Spencer, QC, told him: "The shame you must feel having allowed your vessel to go aground one can only imagine.

"The fact you were found at the time to be over the limit with alcohol may suggest to many people the two are connected. I am not persuaded that they are.

"You were twice over the limit, that cannot be ignored," the judge added.

After the hearing Captain Jeremy Smart, head of enforcement at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, said: "Being drunk in charge of any vessel is a very serious matter.

"It puts at risk not only all those onboard but other users of the sea."

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Drunken skipper ran boat aground
10 Sep 09 |  North Yorkshire

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