A coroner has this week ruled that the death of a sailor whose yacht was washed up on Berrow beach near Burnham-On-Sea last summer was accidental.
Sailor David Moore, 43, from Watchet is believed to have drowned in the Bristol Channel after going into the water to untangle rope wrapped around his boat’s propeller, an inquest heard in Taunton on Wednesday (January 15th).
Tony Williams, senior coroner for Somerset, read several statements to create the times and dates surrounding the sad death.
Burnham-On-Sea.com reported last year how the yacht, called Egoist, had been found. Mr Moore had initially departed Watchet Marina on the afternoon of Saturday June 1st, 2019.
The hearing heard that he had sailed out into the Bristol Channel but failed to return to the harbour due to strong tides and he is believed to have anchored on Saturday evening.
His yacht was found washed up on Berrow Beach two days later on Monday, June 3rd after drifting aground on the sands near St Mary’s Church.
Mr Moore’s body was later discovered in a rocky area on Dunraven Bay in South Wales by a beach walker a fortnight later on Sunday June 16th 2019.
The inquest heard statements from several boat owners and residents in Watchet, where the yachtsman worked.
One boat owner at Watchet Harbour said he had regularly seen Mr Moore stumbling to his boat in the morning after drinking alcohol.
On the morning of June 1st he says he saw Mr Moore in the morning staggering. Later in the day he had heard a bang looked around to see Mr Moore’s yacht had climbed another boat, leaving the bow in the air.
Mr Moore had calmly put his boat into reverse, backed off, and sailed out of Watchet harbour towards Blue Anchor. The witness said in his statement to the inquest that he had tried to call after him to stop without any response.
They observed Mr Moore struggling to get back to the harbour and had presumed he had anchored his boat outside the marina. The following morning, the yacht was no longer there.
The inquest heard that one of Mr Moore’s friends had received an email that read ‘sinking but still alive’ on the morning of June 2nd. The concerned friend acknowledged the email and asked whether he had sunk and said she had tried phoning him with no answer. Data collected from Mr Moore’s electronic devices indicated that his last recorded IP session on his mobile phone was at 8.43am on June 2nd.
The coroner said it was at some point after this that Mr Moore is believed to have removed his clothes, put on a lifejacket and entered the water. A Coastguard stated to the inquest that Mr Moore may have entered the sea to free rope wrapped around the yacht’s propeller.
After the yacht was moved from Berrow beach to Burnham Sailing Club by Burnham RNLI lifeboats, the sailing club’s Eric Torkildsen said he had observed the boat’s anchor line was still attached with rope and had been cut. The anchor was not onboard. He added that the rope may have been cut by the RNLI in order to retrieve the yacht as the rope had been wrapped around the propeller.
Nothing on Mr Moore’s electronic devices appeared to suggest he was struggling from mental health issues or intended to end his life, the inquest heard.
Avon and Somerset Police stated that it had received a call at 6.37am on June 3rd, 2019, informing them that the yacht had been seen washed up on Berrow beach with the keys in the ignition and the cabin door open. The yacht also had ample fuel.
Mr Moore’s body was later discovered at Dunraven Bay at 11am on June 16th 2019 by a beach walker.
After considering the statements and evidence, the coronor said it is possible that Mr Moore had entered the sea to untangle a rope that had become wrapped around the boat’s propeller. He may also have been under the influence of alcohol. He recorded a verdict of accidental death by drowning.