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Old 04-09-2016, 10:49   #46
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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Originally Posted by Scaramanga F25 View Post
You save the boat and subsequently it sinks....oh..oh...
Remind me not to count on you if my child is drowning while you wait for the Life Guard to show up....
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Old 04-09-2016, 10:50   #47
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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Originally Posted by Scaramanga F25 View Post
You save the boat and subsequently it sinks....oh..oh...
Thank you. You made my point.
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Old 04-09-2016, 10:53   #48
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

as my grand pappy used to say..... "human nature is a terrible thing but some people fight it better than others"
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Old 04-09-2016, 11:35   #49
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

I have had a similar experience a few times. I remember one instance we used a spare anchor to stop a drifting boat from grounding on a reef. The anchor held although it was under-sized. We then called the Coast Guard. They came but could not get the anchor up. They started to cut our rode that we had used on the anchor. We got them to use our buoy and buoy up the anchor and we later bucked the anchor up with our dinghy.

Unfortunately, a few owners do not anchor or moor correctly resulting in drifting boats. In a crowded anchorage it can really be a nuisance during a storm. We always used very heavy ground tackle. When a boat drifted down on us in the night, we just tied them astern until morning.

I remember one night a "fireboat" came drifting down the upper Waitemata Harbour in NZ. We could have lost our own boat that night had it caught up in our lines. It went ashore and was a total loss.

As far as a general rule of thumb, I think there is not one. If the drifting boat is in peril, I think there is a moral obligation to do something. Ultimately, I think the USCG or port authority (if one exists) must answer the bell).

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Old 04-09-2016, 11:41   #50
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

That's a pretty serious cruising boat. Not the type typically owned by someone who doesn't know how to anchor. Or have proper ground tackle. And the dinghy is on it's davits, which would indicate someone may be aboard. Or perhaps the owners were called away out of town for some reason and got a ride to shore and left in a hurry. Or were taken off by Fire Rescue and are in a hospital somewhere. One might imagine all sorts of scenarios. Temporary storage after recent purchase? Stolen boat? Sick or injured (or dead) crew? Stuff happens.

With my nosy do-gooder inclination to meddle, I would likely have investigated. Laws vary, especially where maritime law butts up against local and state statutes. And liability is a consideration if you break something. But good samaritan intentions often cut you some slack.
I have boarded, towed and re anchored a few boats. But they were dragging around and endangering my own and other people's boats. So I claim self defense. And I enlisted the aid of someone else in the anchorage to split the blame and back up my story. Nothing ever happened. Never saw the owners. And both boats disappeared shortly after. But then, I am not unduly overburdened with extreme rule follower syndrome. Your comfort level may vary.
Mostly, I just do what I would want someone else to do for me.

I would likely have gone over and yelled and banged on the hull. With no response, I may have gone around to see if anyone else in the area knew anything. Common sense applies here. If the locals look like dirt bags and ne're do wells, I might use a bit of discretion here. Then I would go aboard and investigate. All locked up and in no eminent danger? I might be inclined to leave her be and call the authorities. Maybe start investigating salvage law
If I thought I could operate her anchoring system and equipment from the foredeck, and get her into a better location without making things worse, I might do that.

Boat open and unlocked? I'd have a look around for owner contact info. I leave mine prominently displayed. You might get authorization to call for help. Maybe they have towing coverage. Maybe they have no idea their boat is 100 miles from where they last saw her in the marina. Maybe they're in town at the movies with another cruiser. Who knows? You don't know what to do until you know what the situation is.
I know this. If that were my boat, and she was in danger; I'd sure appreciate a favor.

And who knows? Highly unlikely, and it's a long and complicated process but you just might wind up with a damn nice cruising machine! Or at least, compensation for your efforts.
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Old 04-09-2016, 12:19   #51
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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Originally Posted by Scaramanga F25 View Post
You save the boat and subsequently it sinks....oh..oh...
Did you intentionally open the sea cocks to flood the boat? If not the only effect this would have on you is the amount of salvage you would be entitled too.

God people, the law on this is clear, if you save a boat from a maritime peril, and drifting into shoals absolutely is a merriment peril, you cannot be sued for anything other than being grossly negligent in the rescue operation.

Even if you do actual damage to the vessel it doesn't come out of your pocket. In order to loose a suit for damages you would litterly have to do something so stupid no reasonable person could possibly have agreed to it.

As an example, driving a fork lift into a boat to lift it out of the water (putting holes all the way thru it) has been held NOT to be grossly negligent.
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Old 04-09-2016, 12:21   #52
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

I'm with Steady Hand on all points 1-9.
This is also what I see and expect, with experience from Europe and the Caribbean, where people just do what's needed to stabilize the situation.

American boats may get a slightly reluctant response, due to the many risks mentioned.

Do not judge the boat by the looks!
I meet many people that have all their worldly possessions on their boats, and they will most often fight the hardest to save yours.
Their boats may not look much or have the latest gizmos, but they are the people I'd ask for advice or help any day.

Be thankful and offer to share a home cooked meal.
Then perhaps ask if they are in need of some used equipment (if it feels appropriate), as this is worth more than 100 fancy meals.
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Old 04-09-2016, 12:32   #53
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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Calling the coasties or the sheriff seems like the smart move.
I actually was in this situation once. I watched a boat adrift and drifting through an anchorage full of boats. I called the Coast Guard. They asked if I could retrieve it. I said I could not.

Even though this was within sight of a major Coast Guard station, they did nothing. It would seem a waste of time and bandwidth to call the Coast Guard in a situation like this.
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Old 04-09-2016, 12:35   #54
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

Was the companionway open? My first thought is to be sure no one is aboard who is in need of medical attention. If not, then decide between a pan-pan or mayday call. Sounds like a pan-pan from your description. I would stay nearby to be sure the boat does not become a hazard, like when the tide rises, till someone with a badge and a bigger boat gets there.
That salvage thing... I had my boat anchored off Santa Barbara back in the 80s and some local color got the bright idea to swim out, untie the boats and wait for them to drift onto the beach so they could claim "free salvage!" I found most of my "salvaged" belongings under a bridge nearby and since my boat was still somewhat afloat and rocking back and forth in the waves, the harbor patrol (who had also called me at 5am to tell me to get down there fast!) threw me a line and gave it full throttle. I was glad I had beefed up that bow cleat. The boat (24', 5000#) jumped out of the surf with no damage except the companionway that had been beaten open with a crowbar.
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Old 04-09-2016, 12:36   #55
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

The crew of the Gabriola Island car ferry forgot to secure to the Nanaimo dock and went home. Found drifting early morning by a couple of fishermen who put a line on her and called authorities. They were eligible for some salvage money for their minimal efforts .
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Old 04-09-2016, 12:37   #56
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pirate Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

I've helped loadsa dragging boats.. with and without folk on board.. like MarkJ its an adventure and breaks up the day.
Anchored up at the W side of Panama it was a much anticipated game as the boats would group as close to the dinghy dock as they could get.. the holding was mediocre and the daily thunder squalls would set at least 2 or 3 moving..
Me..?? I was much further out where the holding was great
But they've got to be cruisers boats.. in the Balearics it was a regular occurrence.. the charter boats would steam in around 3pm.. drop the hook and chain in a rush while others readied the dinghy and of they'd roar for the dock and the bars.. couple of hours later as the breeze picked up they'd come drifting past my seat in the cockpit.. nope.. no way would I board a chartered boat.. anything goes wrong they'd be on me like a ton of bricks.. also.. not into arguing with some of the drunken dorks that do these charters..
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Old 04-09-2016, 12:49   #57
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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By the way, in the situation pictured, I wouldn't go near the thing. A lot of Florida people are armed and think the 4th Amendment applies to boats. I'm not trying to pick a fight, but to acknowledge further the situational nature of one mariner's enthusiasm for helping another. I wouldn't approach the waving crew of an apparently stricken boat in the Red Sea, either.

It seems apparent this occurred near San Fransisco not Florida.

To clarify many Americans and many US cruisers are armed thanks to the SECOND Amendment something we value deeply. 99.9% of us would use deadly force as an absolute last resort and certainly not before clearly identifying who has boarded our vessel or entered our home.

If you can help a vessel in distress without harming yourself or your own vessel then you have a responsibility to do so. The USCG would agree and there are good Samaritan Laws that protect those that act accordingly.
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Old 04-09-2016, 13:05   #58
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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I actually was in this situation once. I watched a boat adrift and drifting through an anchorage full of boats. I called the Coast Guard. They asked if I could retrieve it. I said I could not.

Even though this was within sight of a major Coast Guard station, they did nothing. It would seem a waste of time and bandwidth to call the Coast Guard in a situation like this.
Don't put it on the men and women that are coasties. They stopped being a towboat company years ago. I believe they are with Homeland Security today. I feel sure if life and limb are at risk you would see a response. I can recall a coworker getting pissed when they stopped towing him in when he ran out of gas. Dah! Write Congress if you don't like it, as if that would help.
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Old 04-09-2016, 13:12   #59
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

This thread isn't about what people would do if they saw a boat drifting or dragging anchor, it's about what people say they would do if they saw a boat drifting or dragging anchor. There's a big difference. Remember, this is the Internet.

There are many variables and what you say or think you might do can easily change if you find yourself actually in that situation rather than behind a keyboard.

I posted above what I actually did when in this situation. The Coast Guard didn't think it was important to rescue the boat and they have the equipment, training and staffing to do it. I do not. My wife would be pretty useless in this situation so it would be a one man rescue attempt and I'm not nearly as young as I used to be so that's a limitation as well. I might participate in a community rescue if others joined in.

My boat is not equipped for towing so that's pretty much out. I'm not sure I could anchor someone else's boat any better than they could and certainly not without engine power.

A couple things to think about. There might be armed people on board. More likely in some places than others, but it's a possibility.

There might be somebody dead on board. Now you are obligated to call the authorities and wait for them. You could easily be tied up in red tape for hours. A friend of mine was docked at a marina and a body washed up against his boat. They wouldn't let him leave for several hours and that meant he couldn't get back to his home marina before dark and had to spend a night anchored and missed work the next day.

You might injure yourself trying to board or free the boat.

You could end up involved in a lawsuit if something goes wrong or be accused of trying to steal the boat.

Now, I know some folks will claim this is a bunch of crap, but these are things to think about.

We pay taxes for the government to hire and train people to take care of things like this. Call the authorities and let them handle it.
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Old 04-09-2016, 13:13   #60
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

+1 to Mark and Boatman. I always help too...for the Karma. You can't have too much good Karma when at sea.

And ignore these "liability" hand wringers. They are flat wrong. As long as you are assisting in good faith and for no compensation, the Good Samaritan laws cover you - even if you make things worse. Note that professionals (CG or Sea Tow) do not have Good Samaritan protection because they are doing their job.

The US Federal law covering maritime casualties (46 US 2304) not only provides broad Good Samaritan protection in all US waters but actually requires you to offer assistance unless doing so endangers your vessel or crew. Failure to do so carries a possible penalty of two years in jail.

In 50 years of helping people on boats, I've never been sued. Nor has anyone I know ever had this happen. You almost certainly have a bigger liability risk letting a friend step aboard your boat (where he might trip) than helping another boat as a Good Samaritan.
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