'Unwise decision' in Tas river drowning

·2-min read

An experienced sailor was a few metres from shore when he drowned in northern Tasmania trying to secure his yacht in wild weather.

Christopher John Brian Baker's wife was in the kitchen of their Deviot property on June 9 last year when she spotted the 33-foot monohull coming loose from its mooring in the Tamar River.

The pair donned life jackets and set off in a small dinghy.

Mrs Baker made it onto the yacht but a sizeable wave caused Mr Baker, 66, to float away on the dinghy before a second wave overturned it.

Mrs Baker called police, who arrived about half an hour later to witness Mr Baker clinging to the dinghy.

He was about 10 metres from shore and tried to stand. The police officer looked away briefly and turned back to see Mr Baker face down.

He jumped in, dragged him to shore and commenced CPR but Mr Baker died at the scene.

"Whilst it was understandable that (they) made the decision to protect their yacht, it was an unwise decision in the circumstances," coroner Olivia McTaggart wrote in findings published on Friday.

Wind speeds were 40-50km/h at the time and there were white caps on the water, with Ms McTaggart describing the weather as "unusually severe".

Ms McTaggart said the life jacket was in good working order but had risen above Mr Baker's head, increasing his risk of drowning over the 30 minutes he was in the water.

"The life jacket worn by Mr Baker was not fitted with a crotch strap and was not required by regulation to have a crotch strap," she wrote.

"Marine and Safety Tasmania emphasised that life jackets fitted with crotch straps prevent the life jacket from riding high on the wearer and, as such, increases the protection from drowning."

Ms McTaggart made no formal recommendations, saying the mooring had not previously shown any indication it was not fit for purpose.

She noted regulations place significant onus upon permit holders to ensure moorings are suitable, but audits are conducted by the marine authority.

The couple had an extensive history sailing together and had purchased the yacht in 2019.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting