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An incident which saw two boats collide close to Mai Ton Island on Saturday (April 11) seems to have reached a stalemate with the only solution appearing to be the Civil Court.
The collision between the North Star dive boat, owned by the Rawai based Aqua Center Thailand, and which had 60 divers on board, and the Starship yacht left the latter slightly damaged and saw two of its passengers allegedly thrown overboard.
The wife of the owner of Starship, and a witness to the incident, Paiwan Sridan Gilbert, told The Phuket News, “We travelled from Langkawi to go to Koh Phi Phi on April 5 and reached Koh Phi Phi on April 10 where we stopped for a night.
“We left Koh Phi Phi for Chalong Pier at 5:30am on Saturday. We reached Mai Ton Island at about 9am and noticed the North Star coming towards us. We had in fact already seen North Star departing from Chalong far away in the distance.
“North Star didn̕t stop and continued towards us. It crashed into us very hard.
“We were afraid and thought our boat would sink.
“The crash caused one of our passengers to fall overboard into the sea, and another to fall onto North Star, it was that close.
“After crashing into us North Star did not stop to see what had happened. They drove away still with our passenger on board.
“He was crying out for help so the North Star turned back. It hit us again.
“I shouted for our passenger to jump back to our boat, but a man from North Star kicked him into the water.
“The owners of North Star have yet to contact me, but our boat is being checked for damage and I have left it to my lawyer to deal with everything,” said Ms Gilbert.
The owner of Starship, Gary Gilbert added, “When I realised he was on collision course I blew my horn five times [the international collision warning signal]. He replied with three blasts which I now know means ‘I am going astern’.
But Mr Gilbert says that the North Star neither turned, slowed, nor tried in any way to avoid a collision.
He himself was steering the boat and could not turn starboard making it impossible for him to get out of the way without gybing the boat and endangering his crew, so he tried turning port.
“North Star is a powerful vessel and he could have easily have avoided us,”said Mr Gilbert.
In fact, Mr Gilbert said if Starship had not been in the way, North Star would probably have hit Mai Thon Island. “He was on a collision course with the island. If he hadn’t hit us he would have hit the island. It was only about 300 metres away.”
Mr Gilbert too claimed that his passenger, Jens Ole Vibild, 21, fell onto North Star as a result of the collision, and that once it had detangled itself from Starship motored away, going in a circle and then coming back. When it drew close a member of the North Star crew put his foot on Mr Vibild’s back and pushed him overboard.
Meanwhile, a representative of Aqua Center Thailand who declined to give her name, denied to The Phuket News that North Star smashed into Starship.
She said, “Starship was in North Star̕s way. We warned them and they should have got out of the way.
“We did not smash into them. If we smashed into them they would not be alive because our boat is bigger than their boat. It was just a bump.
“Before the boats collided North Star turned back but Starship still came towards us until the boats collided.
“We have met at the police station already, and we believe it is not our fault. If they want money for damages then we will go to court,” she said.
She also stated that they have not yet checked if any members of the crew from North Star kicked the man who fell onto the vessel into the sea, but they will look into it.
Dave McGuire – in charge of the North Star at the time of the incident – posted on his Facebook:”story so far………..the sail boat hit North Star. We have 2 vids1 from instructor and one from guest, the sail boat captain says he was on (auto) pilot and the video agrees everyone was fishing at the stern???,nobody sailing the SAIL boat??? North Star had put all gears in reverse and had stopped when the sailboat HIT North Star!!! Come on the local papers check both sides of the story before you go to print. 2 vids folks watch this space.”
Lt Col Panya Chaichana of the Phuket Marine Police told The Phuket News, “I have passed this case on to Vichit Police Station,.”
Vichit police said, “Both sides do not want to talk about damage payment that happened from the incident. I knew that they will called their lawyers to deal with it.”