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Old 30-07-2012, 15:12   #16
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

Originally Posted by jeremiason View Post

David is partially right, except you mentioned compensation. You might want to read my previous post, the JONES ACT or 46 United States Code 688.

"Compensation" is the key work in determining employment status on a vessel and it has a broad definition in the courts.

Refer to my previous post.... "Any Compensation to the owner makes that person a paid passenger". That makes your boat a charter and requires you to hold the proper licenses and if over six passengers, the proper vessel inspections.

There is no gray area if it is investigted and your "passengers" tell the USCG they gve you $1 for the ride, you will be cited for operting without a USCG license.

This is now a big issue in San Francisco Bay, where the USCG is clampping down on people trying to take passengers out for the America's Cup.

They are doing press releases, yacht club presentation and public relations reminding people a skipper receiving compensation who is not properly licensed or his vessel not properly inspected (Over six passengers)will be charged with a crime.
You're out of date, changed some time ago.

Letter to Latitude 38 by
M. P. Rand
Captain, U.S. Coast Guard
Chief, Office of Investigations and Casualty Analysis
Washington, D.C.

The Coast Guard’s interpretation is that it's completely acceptable for recreational boaters to share the common daily expenses such as gas, food, and other supplies.

Complete letter found here:
Latitude 38 Letters - March 2008

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Old 30-07-2012, 15:50   #17
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???


I have some related experience and I will speak from this experience. Others will have different (and probably way more extensive) experience. I hope my 2 EU cents add some insight.

a. Vessel's skipper/owner responsibility to the volunteer crew?

The skipper is responsible to the crew.

Responsibility of the owner is regulated by the kind of contract between the owner / skipper and/or the owner/volunteer. The contracts can be shaped in many ways depending on the legal system in place.

b. Vessel's skipper/none owner responsibility to the volunteer crew?

See above.

c. Volunteer crew's responsibility to the skipper/owner?

As set in the contract (owner/may be limited by the contract) and in the legal system of the governing country (skipper/cannot be limited by the contract, if contract present).

d. Volunteer crew's responsibility to the skipper/ none owner?

As set in the contract. If no contract present, as set in the legal system of the governing country (at times this means 'none').

e. Volunteer crew often stand watch and man the helm (Experienced sailor and/or no experience sailor) - Some one gets injured on board the vessel or outside the vessel. What is the volunteer crew's situation? (With the consideration the volunteer crew did do something wrong or did nothing wrong)

The skipper is responsible for choosing the crew and assigning tasks to the crew according to the crew's skills, abilities and licenses. Skipper will not be held responsible if he chose the crew with adequate skills abilities and licenses.

f. The volunteer crew is injured (minor to critical) while performing crew duties as a volunteer crew? (Medical coverage and possible lost of time/money/physical ability and Etc.) because of the vessel, skipper, other volunteer crew member, other vessels and nature?

Responsibility as set in the contract. The contract cannot be limiting the governing law in any way.

g. Similar situation as above "e" except no injury, but property damage involving the vessel the volunteer is on and another vessel or some other property while the volunteer crew is at watch and/or driving the boat i.e manning the helm?

> Assuming the boat is properly insured. The insurance may contain a clause that specifies that a person with adequate skills/licenses must be in effective command of the vessel at all times.

> The skipper will not be held responsible if he chose the crew with all due care and with observance of the governing law.

h. Would it be wise to ad volunteer crew on to the vessel's insurance policy for the duration of the voyage as it is often done during paid professional deliveries?

If you take volunteers, ask written advice from your insurer. Follow the advice.

i. Paying for transportation, on board expenses and/or giving some level of financial compensation for the volunteer crew's assistance? (Is the owner's and/or the skipper's relationship changed any i.e. is the volunteer no longer a volunteer in the eyes of the law and what does this mean?)

Not where I lived and worked. It is OK to return costs to the volunteers - flights, hotels, etc.. You can also provide free food / accommodation. If you PAY volunteers for what they do for you, they stop being volunteers.

j. Requesting the volunteer crew to make contribution (financially) to be on the vessel? Where does the sharing part end and the vessel is a charter vessel? Is $20, $30, $50/day OK, but not $51 Etc. If the vessel is bigger and nice and Etc, is it Ok to request more $$ contribution?

The contribution (a.k.a sharing costs) is acceptable only to the level of actual costs NOT related to regular costs of running the boat. You can ask the volunteers to pay for the food and drink they consume. You may get away with asking the volunteers to pitch in on fuel costs. If you ask too much, they become paying passengers or crew. Beware.

k. Domestic ports or international ports. the volunteer crew brakes a law during the time the volunteer crew is with the vessel? (Including procession of drugs) The crew is arrested and/or the law comes to the vessel/owner/skipper?

Yes. The boat can be impounded. The skipper can be required to pay in a bond in less severe cases. Then things depend on the country you are in. If the skipper/owner proves to the local authorities they were not involved in criminal acts, the ship may be set free to go in the end.

l. The volunteer crew do not have or Etc. financial means to provide their ability to exit the destination county on available when asked by the local custom's agency - is the skipper responsible for securing the crew's ability to return to the crew's home port? (As an example, it is not uncommon for a custom's agent to ask someone who arrives in the USA with one-way ticket to show that person has the means to exit the country and also have the money to support oneself during their stay).

Yes. If the volunteer crew does not have their own funds, the skipper may be requested to pay their ticket back home.

My final note is that you may get a clearer picture if watching the volunteer crew as THE CREW and the skipper/owner as THE SKIPPER. Then you go to the local law and see how responsibilities are defined (not only in the maritime part of the law but also in the civil part of the law that regulates relationships between individuals).

When money gets involved, you will probably form a contract and one step further is if the vessel is making money (e.g. a charter vessel) - then the commercial/contractual part of the law comes into play - this may (most often will) regulate the employer / employee (=crew) relationships ON TOP of the civil and skipper/crew laws.

To sum up, hire a lawyer to form all contracts. Pay the lawyer some extra for explaining to you the clauses, their intention and their consequences. Hire a skipper that understands their great responsibility in choosing the right kind of crew to run the ship.

Last but not least, be an honest and just person if things happen.

All the best,

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Old 30-07-2012, 17:16   #18
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Re: Legality concerning owner/skipper/volunteer crew???

lol if only it was that simple. All you are asking for is an explanation with examples of the law of torts (negligence) duty of care and standard of duty of care, formal and informal contracts, employment and maritime laws both in common law and statutes. Added to that is the affect of the interaction of state, federal, international law and treaties between sovereign states. You may not only have the "local laws" to deal with but potentially the flag country and port where the crew/passenger, embarked on the boat.
What most have missed is what happens when a third party becomes involved - ie the owner of property damaged by "your" boat.

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