Load affected Easy Rider's stability, expert tells court

Last updated 08:11 30/01/2014
Peter Bloxham
SUPPLIED
The men lost in the Easy Rider tragedy.

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The Easy Rider could have withstood the wave that capsized it if the boat had have been loaded properly, the Invercargill District Court was told yesterday.

The Easy Rider capsized on March 15, 2012, claiming eight lives.

Easy Rider owner Gloria Davis has pleaded not guilty to five charges under the Health and Safety in Employment Act and the Maritime Transport Act. AZ1 Enterprises Ltd also faces five charges.

Yesterday, witness Michael Pearson, a maritime expert, said he believed the loads of cargo on the back deck of the vessel had had an impact on the boat's stability.

When asked whether there was an expectation that the Easy Rider, properly loaded and properly equipped, would have been able to withstand a large wave, Pearson agreed there was.

Foveaux Strait was known to get larger-than-usual waves, and it would be normal for a seafarer to expect them there, he said.

Although evidence suggested the wave that capsized it was larger than normal, "that's what a seafarer would have expected", Pearson said.

Davis was aware of how the Easy Rider was loaded, having been on the wharf shortly before the vessel departed, he said. Other actions, including permitting the boat to head out into adverse weather along the windward side of Stewart Island, without a certified skipper on board, meant the risk of operating the vessel had not been reduced to as low as reasonably practicable.

The defended hearing, before Judge John Strettell, is expected to continue today.

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