An official report has concluded that the sinking of a Cadgwith based fishing boat may have been caused by extensive modifications which had been made to it.

Skipper Brett Jose and crewman Callum Hardwick were rescued after an ordeal in which Mr Jose had to escape through the wheelhouse window as the 25 foot crabbed suddenly heeled over and capsized.

Following the sinking in November 2022 a Crowdfunder was launched by the Cadgwith community to buy a new boat  for the pair.

The Crig-A-Tana had been fitted with a new wheelhouse, engine, safety kit and deck equipment with the help of Government grants but all had been approved by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

The report by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch praises the swift actions of the skipper and his crewman, which helped to save their lives.

The boat sank at noon on November 12, 2022 just after the crew had picket up the sixth and last of their string of lobster pots, which were stored on the open deck.

It started listing at around 11.30 am and by 12.07 pm it had sunk six miles South East of Lizard Point. Mr Hardwick, who was on deck when the boat turned turtle, was able to climb onto the hull and pull Mr Jose up with him.

Falmouth Packet: The Crig-A-Tana sank at noon on November 12, 2022The Crig-A-Tana sank at noon on November 12, 2022 (Image: Bryher Trewin / Crowdfunder)

They tried to release the liferaft but the Crig-A-Tana sank under them and they were left in the water, supported only by their lifejackets until the raft released automatically and they were able to climb into it.

Mr Jose had managed to press an emergency Mayday button on the radio as he escaped and a EPIRB beacon was activated automatically as the Crig-A-Tana sank. The crew were rescued by the Lizard lifeboat an hour and 13 minutes later.

Both the survivors were volunteer members of the crew of the lifeboat which rescued them and villagers in Cadgwith started a fund to help them cope after the loss of their livelihoods.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch have now completed a preliminary report on the sinking, which they described as a Very Serious Marine Casualty.

Falmouth Packet: The Marine Accident Investigation Branch's preliminary report on the sinking concluded that modifications to the vessel may have rendered it less stableThe Marine Accident Investigation Branch's preliminary report on the sinking concluded that modifications to the vessel may have rendered it less stable (Image: PA)

It concludes that modifications to the vessel may have rendered it less stable and led to water entering through the aft shooting door which was used to lay empty pots after the full ones had been hauled in and emptied.

It recommends closer inspection by the fishing and maritime safety bodies of vessels that have been modified before they are allowed to fish.

The report said: “Crig-A-Tana had been extensively modified in the two years since its purchase in 2019, with funding provided by the European and UK governments, administered by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

“The modifications included: a replacement wheelhouse and equipment; a new engine; various structural changes to the deck area; and the installation of new life-saving equipment, including an EPIRB.

“The MMO application process required the owner to engage with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) before and during any modifications being made and before the funds were released.

“The MCA requirements contained in section 1.9 of the Code of Practice for the Safety of Small Fishing Vessels of less than 15m Length Overall also required an owner to notify the MCA of any proposed modifications to their vessel.

“The skipper had fulfilled these obligations and engaged with the MCA before, during and after completion of the modifications. The local marine office issued a carving note dated 12 May 2021 at the vessel’s change of name from Northwood to Crig-A-Tana following completion of the modifications.

“The skipper provided information to the MCA on demand, as a result of which an inspection of the vessel by an MCA surveyor was not undertaken.

“The MAIB’s preliminary assessment identified that the list possibly developed quickly because of seawater ingress on deck through the open aft shooting door due to the vessel’s loaded condition.

“The recent modifications that had been made to Crig-A-Tana most likely adversely affected its stability. This may have contributed to its capsize and foundering.

“The skipper and deckhand’s emergency preparedness and prompt actions to launch the liferaft and activate the EPIRB facilitated their rapid rescue.”

The MAIB have also released photos of the Crig-A-Tana which show the extent of the modifications.