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Old 04-09-2016, 10:55   #31
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

First rule is don't put your own vessel at risk everything else is contingent on this.

Second put someone aboard to check for medical issues, and if no one is found aboard take the vessel in tow and move her back to safe water, and try to reanchor her.

In the US call the local sheriffs department (they can run a check on the registration numbers and contact the owner) let them know what happened and give them my number in case the owner wants to call me.

Unless I had spend substantial amounts of money, or taken real risk to my vessel or crew I would not make a salvage claim. Legally you could, and probably get a decent pay day, but it's not in me to do so.


Finally there is next to no risk by doing this. An unmanned vessel drifting into shoals is litterly the text book definition of a maritime peril, and this is the textbook definition of a maritime salvage (by this I have a Maritime Law text book that uses this exact situation as an example of maritime salvage). You are only at risk if you do something grossly negligent, which is an incredibly high standard, like setting a signal fire by pouring gasoline on the deck and lighting it.

The only effect doing any damage could have on your wallet is the amount of your salvage claim goes down as a percentage of the damage you do. So a $100,000 vessel with a 20% salvage claim is worth $20,000. Do $50,000 of damage somehow and you claim is now worth $10,000.
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:04   #32
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

This is an interesting thread, because it shows how different sailors respond to a situation or scenario with very different responses.

Some want to avoid personal involvement or possible liability if something goes wrong and thy are blamed.

Some will "jump to" help and look at quick response as most important. It could save life or property.

Some will depend on "others" such as "the authorities" to be responsible for responding.

This form of "speculation" (careful thought of an issue) may be criticized by some, but I think it is useful because "what ifs" stimulate our thinking about how we would respond and from the comments we may learn something from the speculations of others.

My personal response would be (assuming I was anchored nearby in a sparsely populated achorage and not near a city) a quick one, but one with some forethought on what might solve the problems the quickest way with least effort and least risk.

1. Use the radio and call to the boat. If no response, go to 2. But, before doing so, make sure there is no risk to my own boat if I leave it.

2. Take my handheld VHF, a boat hook, my kedge anchor (something like a lightweight Fortress on rope rode) and my air horn with me and take my dinghy over to the drifting boat.

3. First sound the air horn several times near the boat, and shout to try to wake anyone aboard. If no response, move to 4.

4. Drop the kedge anchor some distance from the boat (5:1 scope), pay out the rode and before getting close to the drifting boat, set my kedge using my dinghy motor, and then go to the drifting boat. Again sound the horn to try to wake any crew aboard the boat. If no response, go to 5.

5. Board the boat, tie my kedge anchor rode to the Samson post or suitable place on the foredeck. Do this to stop the drift ASAP. I consider this more probable to help, as it may be impossible or too time consuming to start their engine and their anchor would likely take too long to retrieve or may not be available or usable at all (parted rode, fouled prop, etc.). My kedge anchor rode can be secured in seconds onto a forward cleat.

6. Shout below to again see if anyone is alive on the boat. If the boat is locked up, assume no one is aboard. If so, leave a note, and return to my boat. If there is evidence of foul play, do not enter, leave the boat and report to authorities.

7. Report to the Coast Guard what you have done via VHF. IF you can reach them, ask for instructions on how to proceed. If you cannot reach an authority, base your next steps on what you feel most comfortable doing in the particular situation.

8. Only enter the boat if:
A: There is suggestion by the Coast Guard (if you are in a populated area close to the Coast Guard).
B. There is some response from any person aboard the boat who is requesting help or sounds in need of attention (they may be injured).

9. IF the boat is in a very remote location and there is no way to contact the authorities and there is no other boat or other sailors nearby to assist, then I would enter the boat to see if the crew was incapacitated and needs assistance.

I don't see the possible loss of my kedge anchor as more valuable than a loss of care (loss of conscience) that someone on the boat may need assistance or that I could possibly save the boat from loss with some small but timely effort.

A clear conscience is more valuable than some risks.
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:06   #33
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

Quote:
Originally Posted by fstbttms View Post
It's one thing to board a boat that's on fire and it's another to take it upon yourself to move and re-anchor a boat that is not in danger.
This situation looked quite benign. No doubt if no danger to boat or others seems prudent to just alert authority. Seems also prudent to lay an anchor to prevent further damage and access for injured crew.

In regards to liability and gun ownership. I will take my chances. I have talked my self out of a lot of binds and never had an issue. I have found good intentions make it easier to talk yourself out of a bind.

I do need to look up these salvage laws. That all is a little grey to me. A short tow to a gas dock for the teenagers in the ski boat doesn't seem like it could possibly warrant salvage.
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:06   #34
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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Originally Posted by Cadence View Post
You're in the US. You better lobby for tort reform before placing a line on an unoccupied boat.
I don't know if this applies, but there are "Good Samaritan" laws in the US that absolve "do gooders" of liability if they are trying their best to help, at least to administer first aid i.e. For administering CPR. I would call the authorities (USCG, police, etc.), whomever was available, and tell them that I was going to try and help this boat that may be in danger of grounding, and that I was going to re-anchor her if I could, then check for life aboard by knocking on the hull LOUDLY, then move them. I have done similar things to help out others in SO many situations, and intend to do so in the future. From NY, living in FL for 20 years, still would not change my values due to ridiculous laws.
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:11   #35
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

It probably does depend on the situation, location, depths, weather, local authorities, and also possible danger to other vessels.


We have seen vessels dragging anchor into a mooring field on Catalina Island at Desconso. One place that we would not anchor due to depth , and foul bottom with rocks and seaweed.


We did not make the radio call to the harbor dept, which was about 3 minutes away in Avalon Harbor, with many harbie boats.


On the VHF Channel for the harbor dept. The vessel that reported the boat dragging down on other moored vessels told the harbie dispatcher what was occurring and moored boats could damaged.


Harbie: The harbor dept. is not responsible for anchored vessels dragging into the mooring field. I suggest you drop off your mooring and pick up another away from the dragging vessel.


Caller: Our boat is not in danger, but no one appears to be on board the vessels that might be impacted.


Harbie: The harbor dept is not responsible for boats dragging into the mooring field.


Fortunately a dink come up to the dragging boat, the crew just returned from being ashore.


But this was not an abandoned vessel.


As to an abandoned vessel, I would hail her, by voice, and VHF, sound off your fog whistle ( that can wake up the near dead ), you can generally read the name of the vessel and hailing port. No answer, call the harbies or coasties. Depending on conditions and safety board the vessel, and inspect for people.


Also, get as much info on the owners or passengers, and definitely advise the authorities. Vessel abandoned, lay out an anchor, or take her in tow, but that brings in a lot of other circumstances.


The other posters are correct that many things come into effect as to your actions.
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:15   #36
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Waterrat 10 this isn't directed at you, but sometimes these threads drift away from what was intended.

Sometimes??

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Old 04-09-2016, 11:25   #37
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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Originally Posted by Stumble View Post
F
The only effect doing any damage could have on your wallet is the amount of your salvage claim goes down as a percentage of the damage you do. So a $100,000 vessel with a 20% salvage claim is worth $20,000. Do $50,000 of damage somehow and you claim is now worth $10,000.


Why would anyone WANT to file a salvage claim? I wouldn't voluntarily help someone, or someones boat for monetary gain. I would help them or their boat because my mom taught me right!
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:26   #38
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

It is a pretty sad state of affairs that today we are more afraid of being

shot or sued rather than to save another persons boat.
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:29   #39
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

On the other hand, if you are in the open ocean and come across a drifting boat and see Billy Zane madly rowing a dinghy towards you...

(Posted for a Sailor's Humor Boost)
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:33   #40
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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I would rather deal with a stupid courtroom than my own conscience
I would have agreed with you years ago. Today it appears there are to many dirt bags looking to sue. Sad but true.
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:37   #41
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Depends on where in the world you are I guess.
If I could have without endangering my own vessel I would have pulled her to deeper water, re anchored her and called the authorities.
I would not have claimed salvage though.
On edit, I don't think there is a right answer, but did you inform the authorities if there are any?
"Right answer" in what sense? Legal, moral, custom of seamen?

What you wrote is exactly what I would do, despite certain risks as described in other posts. Because it's the right thing to do.
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:38   #42
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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I would rather deal with a stupid courtroom than my own conscience




Note that helping others, only if there is absolutely zero risk (or cost or whatever) to yourself, isn't really help. The real man jumps into the cold water to save the drowning child, even though he knows there is some danger to himself (and even risk of getting sued). The spineless mouse stands there, thinking about pneumonia and lawsuits, while the child drowns.

We know which sort Sailingfarmer is
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:41   #43
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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I would have agreed with you years ago. Today it appears there are to many dirt bags looking to sue. Sad but true.
I think you have to do what you have to do..... if you are a moral man. Being safe and sound while your neighbor may be losing everything... is nothing a human being with a conscience can tolerate because some potential lawyer may be looking for a gig. If you save the boat what will they sue for? Trespassing?
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:42   #44
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

Why is everyone scared of lawyers and the police. Any police officer that is on the water most likely has more then their share of experience with boats that have drifted off or run aground. So me explaining to an officer that seeing the boat in trouble I went to offer help and using my years of experience the best thing was to move it to safe water. This is the same thing I would tell a judge without fear of liability. The attitude of no good deed goes unpunished may be good for some people but it makes the world a worse place to live.
Also four or five blasts with my air horn from 10 feet away will let anyone on board know I am there. If no one responds this vessel would be considered "in distress" and "in need of assistance".

Maritime law is quite clear concerning trespass. When a vessel is exposed to a marine peril and no one is aboard to refuse or accept the salvage services (whether it is derelict, abandoned or has simply been temporarily left), it is not necessary for the salvor to attempt to locate the owner or to obtain permission prior to undertaking salvage operations. Under such circumstances, the salvor is not a trespasser but may proceed to assist the vessel and make a claim for a salvage award.
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:45   #45
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

You save the boat and subsequently it sinks....oh..oh...
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