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Old 20-08-2015, 06:06   #1
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So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do "yo

Seeing as their is a huge amount of people fleeing Haiti and some from Cuba, what would you do if happened upon while cruising , a sinking or sunk refugee boat with oh say 10 or 30 or even 100 plus people clinging for life and the CG or Brdf is hours or more away....
Some of these boats are so overloaded its unreal they float. *"The Nassau Guardian*reports that 244 Haitian migrants traveling in a 60-foot wooden sloop were apprehended close to Exuma "
Do you keep keep going ,wait it out , radio it in, throw out a bunch of lines , only allow women and children onboard??? Its a very unlikely situation but not outside the realm of possibility , how would you handle it?
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Old 20-08-2015, 06:12   #2
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Re: So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do

Well if I was in Cuban waters, I don't think I would be helping any refugees fleeing Cuba. Not if I wanted to keep my boat.

Except for that scenario, you treat them like any other boater in distress. (And, trust me, the Coast Guard isn't that far away from any part of the Bahamas, they have two air bases in the Bahamas).
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Old 20-08-2015, 06:22   #3
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Re: So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do

We were south of the Turks and Caico, just as the US was staging to go into Haiti. Earlier in the day we saw a Haitian sloop leave Cockburn Harbor after reaching their time limit, into some stormy weather. Later that night we saw lots of small pieces of wood, firewood, floating in the water. Haitian boats would drop their cargo, and on the way back to Haiti, stop where they could to collect firewood to bring back to Haiti to make charcoal. It hit us that there was the potential of coming across a distressed situation. We talked about it at length, and decided that if we came across a group of people in the water, or on a disabled vessel, that we would not take them on board. The fear was that desperate people do desperate things. Instead, we would notify authorities, stand by at a distance, and throw anything we had, that would float, cushions, pfd's, the dinghy to them. It was a very sobering discussion to have, but felt that a couple on a sailboat could be in a very life threatening situation if taking desperate people on board.
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Old 20-08-2015, 06:24   #4
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Re: So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do

If in radio range, report it,
Its harsh in this day and age, But if you allow any one on board, You might lose your life and your boat,
You rescue a couple of them, They can and will take over your vessel to save every one, Overloading and sinking your vessel as well,
I hope I am never in that position to make that decision,
In a small boat, All you can do is stand off at a safe distance, It makes it easier for rescuers to spot you and the boat in distress,
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Old 20-08-2015, 06:24   #5
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Re: So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do

[QUOTE=. (And, trust me, the Coast Guard isn't that far away from any part of the Bahamas, they have two air bases in the Bahamas).[/QUOTE]

I have witnessed over the vhf 4 people dying in a sinking commercial fishing vessel 12 miles from key wests airbase. Just 3 years ago. Just because they are are close help could still be 4 hours away. I


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Old 20-08-2015, 06:28   #6
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Re: So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do

The United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea ("UNCLOS") says that every signatory to the convention must require the master of a ship flying its flag to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost and to proceed to the rescue of persons in distress. So it seems that if your vessel is flagged (documented) in a country who has signed on to UNCLOS you are required to render assistance.

Of course, absent any requirement, it's the right thing to do. Rendering assistance does not necessarily mean trying to take aboard more people than your vessel can hold....

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Old 20-08-2015, 06:38   #7
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Re: So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do

Very situational dependent.

Pretty much everything starts with calling the cavalery in.

After that it's triage.

If the conditions are calm like in your picture, I probably stand off and wait.

If people are in the water, I probably start thowing floataiton first and assess if any are unable to swim or there is another danger.

If bad enough, we have to consider if we pick people up with the main boat but that comes with it's own issues. 50 people would likely sink our boat and then we can no longer offer help. I'm also doing my best to assess the mood of the people. If they come across as overly agressive, I likely would hold off as long as possible before picking them up or maybe limit it to the kids.
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Old 20-08-2015, 07:07   #8
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Re: So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do

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Originally Posted by 2Hulls View Post
The United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea ("UNCLOS") says that every signatory to the convention must require the master of a ship flying its flag to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost and to proceed to the rescue of persons in distress. So it seems that if your vessel is flagged (documented) in a country who has signed on to UNCLOS you are required to render assistance.

Of course, absent any requirement, it's the right thing to do. Rendering assistance does not necessarily mean trying to take aboard more people than your vessel can hold....

Dave
Sounds nice, but I believe you may be GREATLY underestimating your ability to keep such a situation under control... Particularly with a multihull like yours, which I would presume has not one, but TWO very accessible means of clambering aboard from the water at each transom... If you think you would necessarily be able to SELECT who is coming aboard in such a dire situation, and who must remain in the water, dream on...

There was an incident several years ago involving 2 couples buddy-boating in the Jumentos, if memory serves, who came across a large group of Haitians who had been shipwrecked on one of the cays... One of the cruisers was a physician, who approached them to render assistance, and provide some water (again, just going from memory here, don't have a link at the moment to their account of the incident)

Needless to say, it very quickly became apparent that by attempting to help, they would be placing themselves in extreme jeopardy, and were basically compelled to depart the scene, or standy by at a distance beyond the range of any who would attempt to swim out to their boat(s)...

Their first move had been to notify the CG, of course, who managed to arrive on the scene in fairly short order, as I recall...

All in all, a very sobering account...
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Old 20-08-2015, 07:20   #9
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Re: So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do

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Originally Posted by 2Hulls View Post
The United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea ("UNCLOS") says that every signatory to the convention must require the master of a ship flying its flag to render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost and to proceed to the rescue of persons in distress. So it seems that if your vessel is flagged (documented) in a country who has signed on to UNCLOS you are required to render assistance.

Of course, absent any requirement, it's the right thing to do. Rendering assistance does not necessarily mean trying to take aboard more people than your vessel can hold....

Dave
That may be true, but only to the point where you don't put yourself, your crew, or your vessel at risk. You as the master of the vessel need to make that decision.
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Old 20-08-2015, 07:25   #10
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Re: So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do

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That may be true, but only to the point where you don't put yourself, your crew, or your vessel at risk. You as the master of the vessel need to make that decision.
Of course! Rendering assistance doesn't mean being stupid. There's a big difference between a couple people in a raft and 100 refugees on a barge. Rendering assistance for the later might be to stand off and communicate to more capable assets.

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Old 20-08-2015, 08:36   #11
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Re: So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do

Haitian sloops were frequently seen in Bahamian water up to about ten years ago. They used to carry goods regularly between the two countries but were stopped due to the influx of illegals. They're amazing sailors. No power, crooked tree trunk masts and flour sack sails.

Here's one sailing through Nassau harbour.


Here's another one, unfortunately sunk.
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Old 20-08-2015, 09:21   #12
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Re: So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do

I agree with Mr. help but I am not putting myself or my boat in danger by getting too close or taking anyone on board
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Old 20-08-2015, 09:55   #13
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Re: So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do

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Originally Posted by keepondancin View Post
We were south of the Turks and Caico, just as the US was staging to go into Haiti. Earlier in the day we saw a Haitian sloop leave Cockburn Harbor after reaching their time limit, into some stormy weather. Later that night we saw lots of small pieces of wood, firewood, floating in the water. Haitian boats would drop their cargo, and on the way back to Haiti, stop where they could to collect firewood to bring back to Haiti to make charcoal. It hit us that there was the potential of coming across a distressed situation. We talked about it at length, and decided that if we came across a group of people in the water, or on a disabled vessel, that we would not take them on board. The fear was that desperate people do desperate things. Instead, we would notify authorities, stand by at a distance, and throw anything we had, that would float, cushions, pfd's, the dinghy to them. It was a very sobering discussion to have, but felt that a couple on a sailboat could be in a very life threatening situation if taking desperate people on board.
Pretty much this. I could conceivably rescue 20 people, but 10 could steal my boat from me were they desperate enough. And getting into one of those overloaded death canoes is pretty much the definition of "desperate enough". I would, however, stand well off, check 'em out with binoculars, and report their position and appearance.
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Old 20-08-2015, 10:59   #14
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Re: So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do

As a single-hander I have pondered this at length.

Unless loss of life was imminent no one is coming on board. My boat has both an EPIRB and a PLB. If I could not raise the uscg I would activate the PLB and set it a drift with the people needing help.

If the coasties were too busy and I had to take anyone on board they would exit with "dry feet"!


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Old 20-08-2015, 11:08   #15
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Re: So your cruising and come across illegal immigrants/ refuges in distress, what do

About 25 years ago, while running a 65'research vessel, I came across a group of 100+ Haitians in a 40' - 45' sailboat about 25 miles off West Palm Beach, in the Gulf Stream. Becalmed, at sea for many days, they were pretty hungry and thirsty. We passed them water, bread, and whatever leftovers we had on board. I passed them a line, and we towed them to the Customs dock in Lake Worth. We were a bit taken aback by the crew that emerged from their offices to process them, looking like they were going into a nuclear disaster zone - head to toe hazmat suits, breathing masks & the full regalia. I believe we were in the "wet foot, dry foot" policy then, but I don't know if landing at the customs dock counted as dry foot or not.
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