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Old 03-08-2018, 10:01   #1
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Does radar increase liability?

So I've owned boats in phases, just bought a new old one. But in the early 2000's, I recall reading an article that if you have radar and don't use it, having it turned off is no excuse, not knowing how to use it is no excuse, that in a collision your liability increases. Why? Because you have a devise that is specifically designed to aid in collision avoidance and it wasn't in use.
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Old 03-08-2018, 10:52   #2
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Re: Does radar increase liability?

I've no idea what a court would say ... but the rules are clear:
Quote:
Rule 5
Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation and of the risk of collision.
Quote:
Rule 7
(b) Proper use shall be made of radar equipment if fitted and operational, including long-range scanning to obtain early warning of risk of collision and radar plotting or equivalent systematic observation of detected objects.
So if conditions are appropriate to use radar, and you have an operational radar on board, then you are obliged to use it, and use it in a proper manner.

But if you have such a magnificent piece of equipment on your boat, why would you not learn how to use it properly? And if you find yourself in a position where it is appropriate to use your radar, why would you not actually use it? Otherwise why keep it on the boat?
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Old 03-08-2018, 11:00   #3
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Re: Does radar increase liability?

Why would people not use it after purchase? Because they discover it isn't quite as easy as they thought it would be. Kind of like purchasing quality photography software then not using it till much latter as the learning curve was steep, been there, done that.
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Old 03-08-2018, 11:13   #4
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Re: Does radar increase liability?

Here's what one IS Admirality court said
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In short, I conclude that absent circumstances indicating that radar may give information useful for safe navigation and not otherwise available, there is no obligation to keep the radar fully activated. Keeping the radar on standby while underway is, of course, a prudent procedure.

While I reject plaintiff's claims that the EXPRESS should be held in fault for positioning of the lookout and failure to use radar, the EXPRESS must nonetheless be condemned for failure to maintain a proper and attentive lookout.
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Old 03-08-2018, 11:14   #5
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Re: Does radar increase liability?

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Originally Posted by rsn48 View Post
Why would people not use it after purchase? .
Because of the power it uses!
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Old 03-08-2018, 11:21   #6
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Does radar increase liability?

Some Radars power wise is nearly insignificant, I donít know what my B&G 4G Radar pulls, but itís about like an LED light, nearly nothing.

On edit, itís 18 Watts, about 1.5 amps, not insignificant, but a little more than what an old incandescent anchor light pulls, so not bad either.
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Old 03-08-2018, 11:26   #7
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Re: Does radar increase liability?

I'm not an attorney; that said, I think that you've touched upon a very pertinent legal theme in maritime juris prudence: if you have it, you are accountable to be USING it. We see this very clearly where VHF radios are concerned. Many small craft are not legally required to even have VHF, but if they do, they are required to monitor the emergency frequency. If you have radar capability, leaving it turned off will not excuse your proceeding blindly without the benefit of radar into the face of disaster.
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Old 03-08-2018, 11:41   #8
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Re: Does radar increase liability?

I offer an anecdote. Last year I left an anchorage about the same time as another sailboat, and about an hour later we both sailed into a thick thick fog bank covering the channel ... I had radar, he didn't ... it was the first time I had ever been in conditions where using the radar was definitely appropriate. It was like a magic. When a ship announced their presence with a "securite" call on the VHF I could easily see if there was a problem or not ... I could also see other boats heading towards me at speed and hail them to make sure they had seen me. As for the other sailboat ... I could hear a definite fear in his voice on the VHF as he responded to ships that he knew were heading towards him at 20 knots but he couldn't see. Without the radar, that would have been me, it would have been a terrifying situation. If I hadn't spent some time practising with the radar on clear days beforehand, liability would have been the last thing on my mind, I would have been desperately trying to learn how to use the radar ... I ask again: if it's appropriate to use the radar, why wouldn't you?
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Old 04-08-2018, 09:13   #9
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Re: Does radar increase liability?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rsn48 View Post
So I've owned boats in phases, just bought a new old one. But in the early 2000's, I recall reading an article that if you have radar and don't use it, having it turned off is no excuse, not knowing how to use it is no excuse, that in a collision your liability increases. Why? Because you have a devise that is specifically designed to aid in collision avoidance and it wasn't in use.

===


If you ever run at night, in fog, heavy rain, or other conditions which limit visibility, you need radar, and you need to know how to use it properly. There is no other navigational aid that comes even close. Legal liability should not enter into your decision making process.
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Old 04-08-2018, 09:22   #10
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Re: Does radar increase liability?

We used ours extensively on the NE coast and St Lawrence but have never needed it in the Caribbean. We have never observed low visibility conditions to demand its use.
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Old 04-08-2018, 09:29   #11
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Re: Does radar increase liability?

As a former Risk Manager, I get the question's point but instead of possible Liability, think of the reality of injury to YOURSELF, the boat, your crew.

With your mentality better not get AIS either.
Yeah and like they said Learn how to use all of it.
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Old 04-08-2018, 09:40   #12
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Re: Does radar increase liability?

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We used ours extensively on the NE coast and St Lawrence but have never needed it in the Caribbean. We have never observed low visibility conditions to demand its use.

===


I agree that there isn't much fog in the Carib but we've made many night time passages there, and occasionally have been caught in very heavy rain. Admittedly we also made many night time passages without radar on our older boats but would not even consider it today. After a chart plotter and depth sounder, it is probably the most useful navigation tool you can own.

An AIS receiver is also very useful but well behind radar in my opinion.
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Old 04-08-2018, 10:23   #13
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Re: Does radar increase liability?

All by sailing life I've heard from various sources that if you have a VHF radio you are "required" to keep it on and selected to (or scanning) channel 16 while underway. I heard the same "requirement" regarding radar.

I don't know if these are actually in the law someplace, if they may be insurance company requirements, or are just good practice. They certainly are the latter.

As we all know courts can decide anything they want, any way they want, and frequently do, whether it's actually in a statute or the judge just thinks it sounds like a good (or bad) idea. In short they make it up as the go along.

Someone said, "A judge is just a bad lawyer who knew a few politicians."

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers". (Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2)
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Old 04-08-2018, 10:27   #14
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Re: Does radar increase liability?

We maintain a good lookout at all times and use the Vesper AIS as an early warning indicator of other boats in our vicinity, we do have digital radar on board but only switch this on for spotting which way bad weather is moving ahead of us as continuous use puts a strain on our house batteries.
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Old 04-08-2018, 10:43   #15
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Re: Does radar increase liability?

We have a 36 knotical mile radar. I have the habit of going all the way out to 36 and back to 2-3 every 20 minutes. When off of Guatemala approaching Tehuantepec on a beutiful clear day, I spotted a red blotch just outside the 36. Ten minutes later it was 28. I alerted everyone, we started tieing everything down, turned into the wind, began reducing our sails, when bam, the wind hit us. The wind was about 15-20 ahead of the red blotch which were clouds and rain. Was it a chubasco? I do not know. I called it all kinds of "names" in Spanish and English. Will it ever happen again? I do not know. Was it worth it. That time it was. Will it stop some from saying I am overdoing it. No. Will I stop my every 20 minute peek? Hell no.
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