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Old 30-03-2012, 19:45   #1
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Request for Information - Consequences of Collision Incidents

On the last weekend in January, up to a thousand boats take part in the Auckland Anniversary day regatta, including some of the most modern sailboats afloat along with a beautiful fleet of true classics. Several race courses are laid out in the inner and outer harbor area. This year was no different. But unfortunately one terrible incident has raised serious questions.
On a bright, sunny, light wind day. It was estimated there were up to 10,000 pleasure boats of all descriptions on the harbor that day. The owner of a 60 foot yacht was returning home from his holidays. He was at the helm, inside a hard dodger; a woman friend was on board in the cabin or cockpit area. They were under power. Stored on the foredeck of the boat was a large hard bottomed inflatable. The course he chose to steer was directly through a fleet of sailboats which had just crossed the start line of the race. His speed, according to observers, was between 7 to 10 knots (the harbor speed limit is 10 knots but New Zealand maritime law says that within 50 meters of another vessel you must reduce speed to 5 knots).
Unfortunately, one fleet of classic boats had just gone across the starting line. Gypsy, a 70 year old 34 foot classic sloop was close hauled on starboard, carrying a genoa and full mainsail. The owner and crew heard shouting just seconds before they were rammed by the 60 footer. The impact was so great the boat sank instantly. The crew, Jill Hetherington suffered a near drowning, a pelvis fracture, massive bruising and has taken two months to recover enough to walk without crutches. The skipper of Gypsy, John Pryor was not injured but like Jill, lost many personal possessions besides his boat (wallet, computer, cellphone etc.) The owner of the powering sailboat stated, I simply didnt see them.
Gypsy was lifted from the harbor floor and now sits in a storage shed. Insurance coverage will only pay the insured sum which is about one fifth the cost of restoring this classic boat the last designed by Arch Logan one of the most famous New Zealand designers.
The Auckland Harbor master fined the owner of the larger vessel $200 for breach of right-of-way rules.
Reason for this post Many of us down here are hoping to encourage the Maritime Safety Board to instigate an inquiry into this event as they have more power than the harbor board. Not only would a ruling by this board carry more weight to help John Pryor work toward a fairer settlement with the other boat owners insurance company, it would help remind everyone of the importance of keeping a very good lookout (a person on the foredeck on boats with any obstructions to their vision in crowded conditions), respecting race start lines and going around them, etc.. I am working to gather information to present to the director of the maritime board.
My question for forum members how would this type of incident be handled in your home port. I.e. if an incident like this happened in say, Newport Beach or Newport Rhode Island, what would be the consequence for the give way boat? If anyone can point me to a website laying out penalties or a legal precedent, it would be appreciated.
If you want to read more details of the incident you can click on any of these links: Collision sinks yacht, injures woman - NZ Herald Auckland Anniversary Regatta - NZ Herald News
http://www.theaucklander.co.nz/news/...c-yacht-gypsy- ruined/1315312/
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Old 30-03-2012, 20:42   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lin Pardey
On the last weekend in January, up to a thousand boats take part in the Auckland Anniversary day regatta, including some of the most modern sailboats afloat along with a beautiful fleet of true classics. Several race courses are laid out in the inner and outer harbor area. This year was no different. But unfortunately one terrible incident has raised serious questions.
On a bright, sunny, light wind day. It was estimated there were up to 10,000 pleasure boats of all descriptions on the harbor that day. The owner of a 60 foot yacht was returning home from his holidays. He was at the helm, inside a hard dodger; a woman friend was on board in the cabin or cockpit area. They were under power. Stored on the foredeck of the boat was a large hard bottomed inflatable. The course he chose to steer was directly through a fleet of sailboats which had just crossed the start line of the race. His speed, according to observers, was between 7 to 10 knots (the harbor speed limit is 10 knots but New Zealand maritime law says that within 50 meters of another vessel you must reduce speed to 5 knots).
Unfortunately, one fleet of classic boats had just gone across the starting line. Gypsy, a 70 year old 34 foot classic sloop was close hauled on starboard, carrying a genoa and full mainsail. The owner and crew heard shouting just seconds before they were rammed by the 60 footer. The impact was so great the boat sank instantly. The crew, Jill Hetherington suffered a near drowning, a pelvis fracture, massive bruising and has taken two months to recover enough to walk without crutches. The skipper of Gypsy, John Pryor was not injured but like Jill, lost many personal possessions besides his boat (wallet, computer, cellphone etc.) The owner of the powering sailboat stated, “I simply didn’t see them.”
Gypsy was lifted from the harbor floor and now sits in a storage shed. Insurance coverage will only pay the insured sum which is about one fifth the cost of restoring this classic boat – the last designed by Arch Logan one of the most famous New Zealand designers.
The Auckland Harbor master fined the owner of the larger vessel $200 for breach of right-of-way rules.
Reason for this post – Many of us down here are hoping to encourage the Maritime Safety Board to instigate an inquiry into this event as they have more power than the harbor board. Not only would a ruling by this board carry more weight to help John Pryor work toward a fairer settlement with the other boat owners insurance company, it would help remind everyone of the importance of keeping a very good lookout (a person on the foredeck on boats with any obstructions to their vision in crowded conditions), respecting race start lines and going around them, etc.. I am working to gather information to present to the director of the maritime board.
My question for forum members – how would this type of incident be handled in your home port. I.e. if an incident like this happened in say, Newport Beach or Newport Rhode Island, what would be the consequence for the give way boat? If anyone can point me to a website laying out penalties or a legal precedent, it would be appreciated.
If you want to read more details of the incident you can click on any of these links: Collision sinks yacht, injures woman - NZ Herald Auckland Anniversary Regatta - NZ Herald News
http://www.theaucklander.co.nz/news/...c-yacht-gypsy- ruined/1315312/
Lin,

I'm sure you've already thought of contacting these people but, if not, have you tried the Marine Accident Investigation Board (UK)? Their website has a searchable list of ongoing and closed-out marine accident investigations. I did a quick search using the keyword "regatta" (silly, i know) and found the below as an example:

http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources...ile=/Ouzo_.pdf

It details the loss of a sailboat on a starboard tack when it was hit by a ferry off the isle of wight. Not the same scenario, i know. But the concept of a vessel under power simply "not seeing" a vessel under sail on starboard tack is there - along with the findings and recommendations. I'm sure that someone at the MAIB will be able to tell you te legal rammifications of such an accident, as their reports are usually awaited prior to judgement of settlements.

Good luck in finding a solid legal precedent with which to argue this one. From the story it appears that the owners of te Gypsy fell-foul of a miscarriage of some-sort. Do you know if the insurers for the Gypsy and the 60'er were the same company? .. it would explain the "lowest possible payout" scenario and lack of pursuance for damages from the insurance company....

Phil
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Old 30-03-2012, 20:46   #3
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Re: Request for information -consequences of collision incidents

One of the main problems with the Kiwi legal system in my opinion. You get an opps, I'm sorry and a very small settlement.
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Old 30-03-2012, 20:46   #4
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That is tragic but the facts as you present them are pretty straight forwrard.

If they are both New Zealand reidents, no one seems able to "run" from jurisdiction.

The colregs would show the boat under power did not have rights, did not keep a proper lookout etc.

I reckon in the US this would end up in civil court.

Not clear from your post "whose" insurance won't cover the entire loss. It should not be Gypsy's insurance. Unfortunately for the 60 footer I would expect him to carry the majority of the liability and his insurance, then his personal assets would be used to make Gypsy whole.

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Old 30-03-2012, 20:59   #5
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Re: Request for information -consequences of collision incidents

It might go to Civil Court in US but it probely go To Us Marine Court first where they would rule in favor of the stbd tack sail boat and maybe even pull his ticket if he had one but this courts decision would be enough for the sail boat owners ins co to file against the power boat Ive seen it happen in a like accident from my own past !
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Old 30-03-2012, 21:19   #6
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Re: Request for information -consequences of collision incidents

POwer should give way to sail, and on this occasion its obvious there was a lot of sail in the area, therefore the powered vessel skipper should have kept a clear lookout and have been in a position to give way. If his visability was restricted, he should have been even more vigilent.
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Old 30-03-2012, 23:31   #7
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Re: Request for information -consequences of collision incidents

G'day, Lin. IMO, a positive Maritime New Zealand ruling in John's favor will have little additional weight for John in dealing with the other boat owner's insurance company. John already has the ruling he needs from the Auckland Harbour Master. The other insurance company is going to do all it can to "minimize" it's own loses and seek the minimum amount John is willing to hold out for. Their strategy will be to drag it on, with the hope of "wearing" John down. Best advice I can offer is to be prepared for a "long voyage", be prepared for a "tough passage", but don't "abandon the ship". I am not a lawyer, but it is my understanding that in this case, until a settlement is reached, the other yacht could be "encumbered" and the owner would have a difficult time selling it (assuming any damage it suffered was repairable). All the best to John & Jill. Cheers.
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Old 31-03-2012, 02:09   #8
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Re: Request for information -consequences of collision incidents

First legal step would be to get the offending boat impounded until court decides on liability. He has little defence against 'Negligence' and should also be sued for medical costs and loss of earnings. This is a separate issue to the naval claims but a good ruling would force the insurer to make a more reasonable payout. It does sound as if non-naval claims will go better than using NZ boat laws. Certainly this was equivalent to passing a red light on the roads, there is no defence.
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Old 31-03-2012, 02:39   #9
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Re: Request for information -consequences of collision incidents

From OP's description sounds as if the boat that was hit didn't see the other vessel either so could argue that they also were not keeping an adequate lookout (race goggles on?) - albeit I accept that may be down to the wording.

Over here, short answer is no idea. Probably be a similar (criminal) outcome to NZ with the costs being a civil matter.

Long answer would probably involve a civil court case against both the owner and their insurance company (might be worth checking both the boat policy and home insurance to see if they have any cover for legal costs - waving a 100k (plus?!) of "free" legal costs at the other party(s) does tend to help people decide "to do the right thing"). Might also be worth having a legal go at the race organisers for holding the race somewhere busy (and without adequate briefing for the dangers of non-racing vessels etc?) - probably sounds a bit harsh, but it's money involved - so IMO all's fair, and they probably have insurance.
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Old 31-03-2012, 03:01   #10
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Re: Request for information -consequences of collision incidents

Of course power should give way to sail. And the power boat is guilty of failure to keep proper watch. However, there is also another aspect that has not yet been mentioned in this thread. The owner of the sailboat stated in a press interview that he saw the boat under power and 'assumed' that the powered boat would change course.

It is the obligation of EACH boat to do everything possible to avoid collision. If the sailboat had blasted 5 times on a loud horn when he saw the power boat was on a collision course with his boat, this might have had a less disastrous outcome. Even a few seconds could have made a difference in whether a collision occurred or whether the collision might have been deflected somewhat rather than full-speed direct impact.

This would probably go to civil court in the USA. As stated by another poster, the liability insurance for the powered boat (who has already been found guilty of failing to keep proper watch and was fined) should cover the costs of recovery and restoration of the Gypsy.

Good luck to Lin finding the legal precedents she is looking for. She probably does not want the NZ Maritime Safety Board to think along the lines of my thought process because I find fault with both boats.

Judy
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