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NEW LAWS TO COMBAT DRUNKEN SAILORS

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Hundreds of amateur sailors living on and visiting the Islands could be affected by new plans to introduce a “drink-sail” alcohol limit.

The Department of Transport has announced that restrictions for professional sailors, brought in March 2004, will now also apply to amateurs.

People navigating yachts, speedboats, cruisers and canal boats in inland and territorial waters at sea while over the limit could now be prosecuted in the same way as motorists.

They will face a maximum fine of £5,000 or two years in prison if found guilty.

The law will apply to those "involved in the navigation of a vessel" longer than 7m (23ft) and/or capable of speeds of 7 knots or more.

Jet skis are exempt from the ruling but ministers are hoping to include them as soon as possible.

The limit equates roughly to a pint and a half or two pints of normal strength beer, three 175ml measures of wine or three pub measures of spirits.

St Mary’s man Philip Colver was this week cleared of manslaughter and grievous bodily harm over his involvement in a boat crash which killed 31-year-old Benjamin Cochrane in July 2005.

Colver, 32, had consumed up to ten pints of beer before getting behind the wheel of a 21ft speedboat which was in collision with Mr Cochrane’s 15ft Dory off St Mawes.

Mr Cochrane had also been drinkng, Truro Crown Court heard.

Colver was sentenced to 150 hours' community work after admitting three offences under the Merchant Shipping Act.

Mr Cochrane’s father Jamie said his family supported new laws to help stop such a tragedy happening again.

"So that Ben's death was not in vain, one of our main aims would be that there is legislation brought in to stop drink-driving at sea. It's okay to have a drink but not 10 pints," he told the Daily Mail.

He also expressed shock at Colver’s sentence. "He's got 150 hours' community service on the island where he lives. There's a death involved and we've got to live without Ben," he said.

Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman said: "Everyone has the right to enjoy themselves on the water, but in a way that does not put others at risk.

"I am satisfied that in bringing in an alcohol limit for non-professional mariners and in setting the exclusion limit at 7 metres and 7 knots we are providing the best balance between improving safety and avoiding unnecessary regulation."