Faith deckhand Michael Hanlon's death ruled accidental
by Risa Merl
A verdict of accidental death has been recorded by an inquest into the death of a crewmember from 62m superyacht Faith in April 2013.
Michael Hanlon, 22, died after falling into the water in Port Vauban, Antibes, after spending a night out with fellow crew. He was reported missing by the yacht's captain, and his body was recovered later by police divers.
South Cumbria deputy coroner Alan Sharpe told Boat International that the inquest's "simple conclusion was accidental death".
The inquest heard from Lars Van Dinther, Faith’s captain at the time of Hanlon’s death, who said: “We assumed that he had stayed ashore and we waited until about 10am before we started getting concerned and making phone calls.
“A pair of flip flops had been found on the deck earlier in the morning but that did not concern me at the time. Nobody put it together with Michael not being there until later in the day”.
Despite the inquest, exactly how Hanlon ended up in the water remains unclear. His family raised concerns about the hours being worked by Hanlon and the fact that he was unable to access the yacht. A statement from the watch officer was read at the inquest that said all doors on the yacht had been locked at 10pm.
But Faith's former captain said that he "had no concerns over the procedure on getting on the boat at night”. According to Van Dinther, a coded locker held a spare key that would allow entry, and crew could also ring a bell to wake up the captain or watch officer or wait at the crew door for another member to return.
The deputy coroner said he would be issuing a letter of recommendations to the yacht’s owner and maritime agencies about potential changes in procedure to help crew safety.
Charities have been founded in Michael Hanlon’s memory to collect funds for the UKSA (formerly known as the UK Sailing Academy), with one funding page raising more than £38,000.