A skipper drove at speed towards other boats and caused chaos in the water near a popular Highland tourist attraction, a court has been told.
Steven Davie is facing five charges under maritime law after he was reported for close passes of another charter boat.
He was sailing the Spirit of Adventure in the waters around Eilean Donan Castle and Kyleakin when he allegedly approached the Brightwater at speed more than once.
Davie is accused of causing washes and wakes that rocked the vessel and “threw” its skipper across the wheelhouse.
The 32-year-old of Conchra denies a single charge under the Merchant Shipping Act and a further four under the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
On August 13 2018, Brightwater and a third ship, Hecate, were both supporting STV filming a round-Britain open water swim by adventurer Ross Edgley, a jury heard.
Brightwater skipper Hughie Balfour Paul, 67, told Inverness Sheriff Court the crew was initially recording in the waters next to Eilean Donan Castle, using the landmark as the backdrop to a presentation ceremony for the breaking of a swimming record.
Wash rocked vessel
Speaking from the witness box, he claimed that, on the first pass, the Spirit of Adventure approached quickly and then slowed down, causing a wash that rocked his and the other vessel and caused them to knock into each other.
He said: “He appeared to speed toward our vessel. When he was beside us he went from going fast to going slow. When you do that, the boat sinks in the water, creating a wash.
“He created a big wave, then throttled away again.”
Mr Balfour Paul told the court such a move might be expected of inexperienced daytrippers on the water, but not from another qualified skipper.
“In the commercial world it is an absolute no no,” he said. “You are endangering other people’s lives by making the vessel rock.”
Jurors were also shown mobile phone footage of a second incident later that day in the Kyleakin Narrows, where Mr Balfour Paul claimed Davie aimed the Spirit of Adventure directly at his boat, only changing direction in the final moments to pass to the rear of the boat.
Mr Balfour Paul told the court that the wake from the boat had rocked the Brightwater, causing him to fall back into the wheelhouse and hurt his back to such a degree that he later required hospital treatment.
‘He’s not going to stop!’
In the footage Mr Balfour Paul’s wife Catriona can be heard saying: “He’s not going to stop!”
In her own evidence Mrs Balfour Paul, 67, told the court: “I became really quite alarmed, it seemed to be coming straight towards us and that is where it did come until the very last moment.”
She said she was “hanging on” and thinking: “Oh God, what is going to happen here?” before the manoeuvre caused a “huge movement” of the vessel.
“The boat just felt like it was going to fall over, ” she said.
Mrs Balfour Paul said she could not remember much about a third incident described by her husband in his evidence, during which the returning Spirit of Adventure passed between the Hecate and the shore, its wake this time allegedly knocking a paddle boarder supporting the swimmer from their board, as she had been “quite shaken up with the whole thing”.
Boat owners’ ‘bad blood’
When questioned by defence advocate David Nicolson, Mr Balfour Paul downplayed a suggestion that there was “bad blood” between himself and the owner of the Spirit of Adventure, Nigel Smith.
He said: “There is some bad blood between Mr Smith and me but not between me and Mr Smith”.
He also denied a suggestion that the Spirit of Adventure had right of way during the second close pass and he was the one who ought to have yielded, saying: “He altered course to keep me in his bead so that he was coming right at me”.
He maintained that the third ship Hecate had been flying the Alpha flag as required to warn other vessels of people in the water, in the face of Mr Nicolson’s suggestions to the contrary.
The trial, before Sheriff Eilidh MacDonald, continues.