Stricken vessel's calls for help were ignored

A SKIPPER said it was disgraceful that nearby vessels ignored his call for help after his boat ran out of fuel some 45 miles off Guernsey on Monday.

Skipper Peter Morgan finally on dry land after his boat ran out of fuel some 45 miles west of Guernsey. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 1338832)
Skipper Peter Morgan finally on dry land after his boat ran out of fuel some 45 miles west of Guernsey. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 1338832)

A SKIPPER said it was disgraceful that nearby vessels ignored his call for help after his boat ran out of fuel some 45 miles off Guernsey on Monday.

Peter Morgan and seven crew members were returning from Paimpol, Brittany, to Mousehole, near Penzance, Cornwall, aboard a 130-year-old traditional fishing boat, when the engine stopped at about 4.30am after 10 hours at sea.

Mr Morgan said it would have been inappropriate to put out a mayday call as nobody was in danger but a pan-pan call to boats nearby – indicating an urgent problem but no immediate danger  – initially received no response.

‘There were lots of boats in the area at the time and I could hear people talking and it [the lack of response] was disgraceful really,’ he said. 

Comments for: "Stricken vessel's calls for help were ignored"


Welcome to the modern day guernsey

Greed is number one

Bring back the days of respect.

brown cow

engine break down ok these things can happen . but to run out of fuel is only his own doing. Any good seaman will always make sure thay have prenty fuel plus spare


This was about the lack of response not him running out of fuel which is a separate issue. Do you think he deserved to be ignored?.


Initially? So someone in the end did help...

The reason why vessels were unable to help were probably because they were either.

1. Too small to tow this boat

2. Didn't have enough fuel to tow this boat and get back themselves.

3. At 4:30 am there were probably few vessels about.

4. Fewer vessels still would be near him.

At 45 miles west of Guernsey it's safe to say a fair few of those vessels were English or French as well as Guernsey, to blame Guernsey boats for this is unfair, besides, he ran out of fuel, the only excuse for running out of fuel is stupidity. Ultimatly he's belly-aching that nobody dropped their hats for him.


I doubt there would have been many local boats that far out if any.

Guernsey Diver

@PB Falla

Far too much of this story doesn't quite ring true. So before you further vilify Guernsey question the story.

45 miles west of Guernsey is a long way off for local boats? Also strange that there would have been lots of boats this far offshore?

Most boats which would have been capable of rendering assistance (ie not small speed boats) travel less than 20knts but more normally around 10knts. This would be approx 5 hrs motoring to be this far out.

Did they hear his initial call, obviously assistance was received later? Was his radio working properly?

As a boat owner I regularly hear requests over the radio for help in local waters these are almost always met with immediate offers of assistance.

Over the weekend there was a call out from Jersey Coastguard asking for assistance in looking for a missing swimmer and I heared numerous offers to assist in the search.

The boat (pictured) is also sail rigged so why couldn't he use those?

Should a Pan Pan even have been used? Urgent situation? That far offshore no rocks, no risk of sinking? Becalmed maybe but requiring urgent assistance very questionable?

Guernsey boat owners are by and large very helpful and go well out of their way to render assistance. Your belief of greed and lack of respect is way off the mark.

Simply sound like someone who fouled up and wants other to blame.


Well said.

Hearing ships on radio does not mean they are close or able to assist.

and foolish to run out of fuel. And what about his sails?

And no thanks for the volunteer lifeboat crew!

Seasick Steve

Ooh arrrhh, bring some fuel with ye next time m'hearty, sailing 101.


Those boats would more than likely have been French Fishing boats illegally fishing, so they would ignore a call like that.


French boats Illegally fishing in French waters? Possibly, but at least they weren't inside our twelve mile limit.


Yes illegally in our waters, In fact one was pointed out to me by a full time local fisherman on Sunday evening.

Ahoy there

If this would have been a youngster who'd run out of fuel everyone would have been slating him and saying he was an idiot etc.

Just because someone resembles Captain Birds Eye it does not make them any less of an idiot, potentially putting other people in danger through his numptiness.

Captain Pugwash..

Ahoy there me sure there are two sides to this wave of tales on the high seas....but Guernsey diver has morsed out a clear message of curiosity on this strange episode....and from my recolection there is no rationing of fuel in Brittany.Easy to blame others for ones own forgetfulness?.....sails ? ooh arrh ,ah yes those.

Bienvenue chez nous Cap-i-tan!...pieces of eight, pieces of eight.


Don't rely on any fuel gauge in a boat. Always use a dipstick with marks,as it's foolproof.

Also, always carry at least 10 gallons of fuel in cans.

Common sense!


Hmmm... no need for people to start getting uptight...

Nowhere in the above report is there any criticism of local boat owners or operators. Could be all sorts of craft from all sorts of places.

Just that boats nearby did not respond... which is fair enough comment. None of the ships closest to the Titanic responded when she went down.


You say there's no criticism of local boat owners / operators....perhaps not directly, but isn't it interesting that he chose to gripe to the Guernsey Press?

Devil's Advocate

45 miles west would have been in the shipping lanes, it's unlikely that any local vessels would be out that way at all. English and French fishing vessels are common in the area, and ones that size are satellite monitored so no chance of illegal fishing. It's just pure lack of understanding by the commercial vessels, shipping or fishing.


Well said Guernsey diver, nothing really to add to that.

The Body

Perhaps it's worth considering the cost if this "rescue" to the RNLI, the fuel / wear and tear on the Spirit of Guernsey will have amounted to about £5000. On the basis of this expense being funded by donations, that's a fair chunk of the local fund raising and flag days wiped out.

I expect that many will be critical of this view, but failed new fuel gauge or not, this incident indicates a large degree of negligence on the part of the vessel's skipper.

The other "cost" will be the impact on the crew that turned out at 20:00hrs and returned through the pier heads at 04:30hrs. Yes, they all volunteered for whatever call-outs are made of them, but one can only wonder how many of them (many being self-employed) ended up sleeping through their working day yesterday.

So, rather than bleat about those who didn't assist, perhaps Peter Morgan and his seven crew should throw £5k to the RNLI for the fuel and a few thousand into the crew fund?

In any other environment, the responsible person would be seen as negligent and not only liable, but facing action in the courts.

Devil's Advocate

the whole article sheds much more light - once broken down they tried to sail home but got nowhere as the wind was against them - so the question is why didn't they simply turn around?!

also, once suitably rested and re-fuelled they tried leaving here but broke down before getting to the pierheads! The harbourmaster has banned them from leaving until they fix the boat properly :-).