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Old 04-09-2016, 07:56   #1
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Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

We were out on the water yesterday when I noticed a sizable Ketch either dragging or drifting towards shore. By the time I could get to it, it had grounded itself in soft mud.

I wanted to do something to help, but wasn't sure what was appropriate. I probably could have pulled it out of the mud and towed it to deeper water...but then what? Board the vessel and try to re-anchor it? Call vessel assist?

We did wait a few hours for the owners to show up to offer help, but it was getting close to sundown and we had to leave.

I know for sure if the yacht was heading for a reef or rocky shore, I would have had no problem doing whatever I could to save the vessel.

So what would you consider appropriate. I've read many discussion about boarding other peoples boats without permission....some of you are VERY much opposed to it.

What say ye old wise ones?
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Old 04-09-2016, 08:01   #2
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Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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?




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Old 04-09-2016, 08:12   #3
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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?




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Exactly.

This is where the old crotchety curmudgeons getting so upset with helpful folks causes problems. Yes boarding someones home and or property should not be taken lightly. Did you at least look aboard and make sure no one was injured and in need of assistance? Did you try to hail them on VHF?
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Old 04-09-2016, 08:12   #4
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

USCG? Harbour Master?
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Old 04-09-2016, 08:18   #5
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Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

Please let's not start sharp shooting, we weren't there, couldn't possibly know the particulars.
He is asking a question, let's try to answer it.
Waterrat 10 this isn't directed at you, but sometimes these threads drift away from what was intended.


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Old 04-09-2016, 08:20   #6
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

I try to be helpful without myself to greater risk or financial liability than I'm comfortable with.

If the conditions were poor, at least call coast guard or harbour master. If I can easily get abroad, I might check to see if the boat was occupied (might be medical emergency or just someone sleeping deeply). It's surprising what people can sleep through, decades ago we boarded a 50+ footer that was dragging anchor off Malta, peeked below and found no one. By the time we sort of had it under control an older English gentleman and his half naked much younger and attractive companion came out demanding what we were doing. After a brief explanation he thanked us and we were invited to dinner the next day. Most people are able to recognize good faith trespassing and let it go. You can spot the "don't do well with civilization so I'm solo sailing around" folks pretty easily. They're also there ones most likely to climb abroad and steal your crap while you're ashore.

If I were on the internet, I'll board and cut their haylards.
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Old 04-09-2016, 08:21   #7
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

This is a hard one but .
Now the question is possed i'm logging what i would do in my head in case it ever happens .
firstly video it drifting ( if the owner comes back just as your boarding it its an easy way to explain your not robbing him)

then probably done all i can to stop it and get that anchor set in deeper water .

if they do not come back leave them a nice little note telling them what ive done.
just in case id been seen by someone and the feds come knocking .

where was it dragging ?

it sounds like it could have been any one of 3 of my friends boats lol

big pine key ? its sure to be on lol
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Old 04-09-2016, 08:33   #8
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

You can see in the distance the line of reeds where the water shallows. Once grounded the yacht turned 90 degrees to the wind. Winds were blowing pretty good....maybe 15-20kts.



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Old 04-09-2016, 08:35   #9
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

What kind of shape was the boat in? When I was in NE Florida last winter, I saw three abandoned sailboats, based on the rough shape they were in. One was beached on the ICW, one was adrift in the ICW, and the third was drifting on a tidal river in the marshes.

In your circumstance, i would have simply radioed the Coast Guard. Having had the difficult experience of pulling a small sailboat off a sandbar with my 200 hp outboard motorboat, I wouldn't try it with a sailboat.

EDIT: just saw your photo. Definitely not an abandoned boat.
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Old 04-09-2016, 08:41   #10
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

Yes, an interesting one, but not that tough I don't think. As long as you weren't putting yourself or your vessel at risk, I think it is incumbent on fellow mariners to assist where we can.

I almost faced a similar situation about a week ago. In this case we were anchored with a lot of other boats and one, which had been stable for quite a while, suddenly started dragging. There was no one obvious on the boat, so I watched until a lee shore become serious. A VHF called gave no response so I was into my lifejacket and just stepping into our dingy to zip over. My plan was to check for occupants, and failing that, jump on board to see if I could re-anchor before hitting the rocks.

Luckily, just before taking off someone emerged from down below and managed things. But I think I would have climbed on board had it come to that, and tried to prevent a disaster. It's what I would hope others would do for us.
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Old 04-09-2016, 08:52   #11
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

Very situational. No hard and fast rules
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Old 04-09-2016, 08:59   #12
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

This boat does not appear to be in immediate danger. And (as you must know, living in Disco Bay) that going aground is a common occurrence in the delta and typically no big deal. But if you take the boat in tow (unasked for) and eff something up, you are responsible.

Calling the coasties or the sheriff seems like the smart move.
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Old 04-09-2016, 08:59   #13
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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Depends on where in the world you are I guess.
Exactly. High seas, but calm? Board if possible to search for survivors. A solo sailor who is knocked out at the bottom of a companionway may thank you.

Otherwise, stand by to render aid via MAYDAY (which doesn't have to be one's vessel, but can be a vessel "in distress with possible casualties" you happen upon) via satphone or SSB.

Coastal? Call the authorities. Do not board, it may be a crime scene.

Beached? Call the authorities.

Beached where there are no authorities, like an uninhabited atoll? Board and salvage as you see fit. Take pictures and if I.D. is around, secure that, because if some dude's fallen off his boat, there could be a thousand miles between his body (if that is ever found) and where his boat lands.

It's situational, but there are few instances of which I can think where salvors' law hasn't given guidance. That includes saving a boat where the crew is disabled or incompetent, although you can waive your salvage rights if you're feeling generous.
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Old 04-09-2016, 09:02   #14
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

Saw a drifting gill netter, bit of net still out .daytime when only night fishing was happening. Came along side to check A groan from the wrapped up net on the drum located the fisherman. Dad did what he could but the man didn't survive.
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Old 04-09-2016, 09:04   #15
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Re: Unoccupied Drifting Yacht- What to Do?

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.
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