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Episode 453

Loss of MV Darlwyne
Wed, 2018-Aug-01 00:46 UTC
Length - 4:06

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Welcome to featured Wiki of the Day where we read the summary of the featured Wikipedia article every day.

The featured article for Wednesday, 1 August 2018 is Loss of MV Darlwyne.

MV (motor vessel) Darlwyne was a pleasure cruiser, a converted Royal Navy picket boat, which disappeared off the Cornish coast on 31 July 1966 with its complement of thirty-one (two crew and twenty-nine passengers including eight children). Twelve bodies and a few artefacts were later recovered, but the rest of the victims and the main body of the wreck were never found.

Built in 1941, after ending its naval service in 1957 Darlwyne was used as a private cabin cruiser, first on the River Thames and later in Cornwall where it became a commercial passenger boat, despite being unlicensed for such work. It underwent considerable structural modifications, including the removal of its original watertight bulkheads and the conversion of its aft cabin into a large open cockpit. These changes adversely affected its seaworthiness. Surveyors' reports in 1964 and 1966 indicated that Darlwyne was unfit for the open sea; furthermore, it carried no radio or distress flares, and its lifesaving aids were rudimentary.

By 1966 Darlwyne was in the ownership of John Barratt of Penryn in Cornwall. The fatal voyage was arranged when the boat's skipper, Brian Bown, agreed to take a group of guests from the Greatwood guest house in Mylor on a sea trip to Fowey. On the morning of 31 July the outward voyage was completed without mishap, but the weather subsequently deteriorated. Bown disregarded advice to remain in Fowey harbour, and shortly after 4.00 pm began the return trip to Mylor. An unconfirmed sighting at around 6.00 pm placed the boat, in worsening conditions, in the vicinity of Dodman Point, a prominent coastal feature. Following its non-arrival at Mylor the alarm was raised early on 1 August, and full air and sea searches began at dawn. After the recovery of twelve bodies, searches continued intermittently for several months, without finding traces of the vessel.

A Board of Trade enquiry into Darlwyne's loss placed the main blame on Barratt and Bown for allowing the vessel to go to sea in an unsafe and unprepared condition. Bown was lost in the disaster; Barratt was censured and ordered to contribute £500 to the cost of the enquiry. The Board's report exposed the laxity with which boat licensing regulations were being administered, and led to stiffer penalties for non-compliance, but there were no immediate regulatory changes, and no criminal proceedings were recommended. In April 1967 a memorial screen, listing the names of the 31 dead, was dedicated in Mylor church at a special service led by the Bishop of Truro. In 2016, on the 50th anniversary of the sinking, divers found an anchor and other debris at a location close to Dodman Point, which they stated were in all probability Darlwyne relics.

This recording reflects the Wikipedia text as of 00:46 UTC on Wednesday, 1 August 2018.

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