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Old 04-03-2014, 17:46   #46
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

On a serious note, I've asked an attorney who specialises in deaths at sea to write a paragraph or two for me about what is required in terms of American registered yachts. I'll post it as soon as I receive it.
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Old 04-03-2014, 17:49   #47
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

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Why not weigh the body down' pitch it overboard with proper reverence of course, then simply report them as having evidently fallen overboard during the night? Don't know where and don't know exactly when.
"My passenger?"
"yep, need to see his papers"
"Jerry! Jerry! Dangit, he was here when we left Miami!"
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Old 04-03-2014, 18:42   #48
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

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Originally Posted by aquabrat View Post

Not sure why a body must be stitched into a shroud...understand the nose stitching thingy...so too the videos and logs. But for me or my crew..the body goes overboard after a while of trying to contact any passing ship.

When a man dies..his bowels and bladder release their contents. I imagine it would be less hassle wrapping the feces and urine covered body in a hammock and slinging it overboard than it would be to bathe the deceased.

Just a guess.
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Old 04-03-2014, 19:06   #49
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

Sure you would throw the body over ! Who is going to charge you with a crime .
If you are U.S. registered the Coast Guard would have no evidence of a crime .
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Old 04-03-2014, 19:56   #50
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

Opinions in not much order:

Those who make jokes about this are not yet ready to deal with this issue. It is hard to come to grips with. How necessary you think it is-- is up to you, and whomever you sail with. I think death at sea for cruisers is unlikely, but possible. If the people involved are willing to carry the risks attendant upon not having anything in writing, that is a valid choice.

If you want to make it easier for the skipper to decide, then carry a holographic will with specific instructions as to what you want done with your body, if it matters to you, or that will allow him or her to use their best judgment if such a situation arises.

It is necessary, IMO, to get it written and notarized (or local equivalent), placed in an agreed upon location in the boat, and then move on. It is just simple taking care of business; it certainly does not invite death. Few people choose to stay in deadly relationships.

A.
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Old 04-03-2014, 20:18   #51
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

Draw blood so it can be inspected for contagions. Tie the body to a Busun covered in syrup & birdseed & hoist it up the mast. The birds will get rid of the smellies, and you can haul the bones back down for eventual coroners inspection.
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Old 04-03-2014, 20:20   #52
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

Ann, I've dealt with my fair share of death first hand, be it from natural causes or as a result of violence. A little gallows humour is harmless and fine: we aren't talking about a specific case.

If people have informed the skipper of their medical status and shown him their holographic will, that might be fine if they just want to be buried at sea and they are witnessed dying of that medical condition. But what if they don't want their body dumped overboard, or what happens if the skipper just finds the passenger dead in his/her bunk, rather than witnessing a heart attack or something like that. And neither matters if the death is due to misadventure (say after a fall or being whacked in the head by the boom and so forth).

Dying at sea is a remote possibility, but dying of sea in front of someone whom you have informed of your potentially fatal medical condition, shown your holographic will, and they understand and recognise that you are dying of the medical condition you have told them about is so remote as to be virtually negligible.

The most likely scenario of a death at sea is someone dying through misadventure (an accident), or the crew/skipper finding the person dead in their bunk, rather than witnessing the death.

Both of these scenarios put the captain in a really tricky legal position in regards to what to do with the body, and no definitive answer has been given in the thread as yet as to the obligations the skipper must adhere to (or what the likely consequences are if they don't want to sail with a decomposing corpse on board and bury it at sea instead).
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Old 04-03-2014, 20:22   #53
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

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Draw blood so it can be inspected for contagions. Tie the body to a Busun covered in syrup & birdseed & hoist it up the mast. The birds will get rid of the smellies, and you can haul the bones back down for eventual coroners inspection.
Oh my lord imagine crossing paths with that sailboat!! be an eye opener!
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Old 04-03-2014, 20:50   #54
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

Reinhardt,

I did say I think it is unlikely to have a death at sea. However, please understand my underlying assumptions: that it is a no longer young couple that we are dealing with here, like myself and Jim.

My priorities would be to take care of Jim how he wants to be taken care of, then to deal with what the authorities might have to say or do. The original hypothesis was stated so that one was 2/3 of the way into a trip from the west coast of Mexico to the Marquesas Is. (though we didn't know exactly where in the beginning.) What I think the OP really needed was the opinion from a Maritime lawyer as to what his responsibilities and priveleges are when he is taking crew other than a spouse. That was not quite how the OP was formulated, and so the answers have been based on criteria which did not take the Puddle Jump Skippers meeting into account. Those who wanted to help, did.

I have found that most people who make jokes about this kind of subject (the Grim Reaper is coming) do so because they are not yet ready to face the effects of their own death on others or themselves. It is a fairly common psychological reaction to emotionally unpleasant subjects. YMMV
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Old 04-03-2014, 21:34   #55
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

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Reinhardt,



I have found that most people who make jokes about this kind of subject (the Grim Reaper is coming) do so because they are not yet ready to face the effects of their own death on others or themselves. It is a fairly common psychological reaction to emotionally unpleasant subjects. YMMV
With all due respect Ann T Cate I think you're way off the mark here. Gallows humor (amongst males anyway) can serve to foster a sense of solidarity in the face of inevitable death/danger, it can relieve tension, it can provide a bit of much needed bravado and can be a stepping stone to acceptance of ones own mortality. I haven't much sailing experience but I have plenty enough experience with death.

I've previously shared (over-shared?)a little of my rowdy past on cruisers forum but it's the only experiences I have to draw on so...in the 80s there were about thirty in my circle. Today they're are only four of us left alive. One is in prison (grapevine) forever. All of us when we were alive suffered being stabbed, shot, beaten, raped, robbed, incarcerated, overdosed, suicide (on purpose or otherwise) or died of disease. Some of us had to kill. The daily threat of violence takes a heavy psychic toll, but after a while you learn to just accept your death as an inevitable part of the cycle. My friends and I would talk and joke and laugh about death as easily as any other subject..we laughed when a friend was shot in the ass while running from some gangsters and had to have a colostomy..we all had a good laugh at the ungainly way I tucked and rolled away after being stabbed in the liver..we made fun of our deformed and scarred bodies, our missing teeth..our fading youth...not because we weren't ready to deal with our own death, but because we had dealt with it.
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Old 04-03-2014, 21:45   #56
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

Right on, Ann.

When we get to "a certain age", the likelihood of keeling over from a heart attack when carrying out strenuous activities aboard (like setting sails?) increases considerably. So it certainly behoves the older cruisers to consider the ramifications for our partners/crew members if it eventuates.
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Old 04-03-2014, 22:21   #57
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

I spent some time on the internet and didn't get to far. This was as good as I found:

The captain has special responsibilities when the ship or its cargo are damaged, when the ship causes damage to other vessels or facilities, and in the case of injury or death of a crewmember or passenger. The master acts as a liaison to local investigators[22] and is responsible for providing complete and accurate logbooks, reports, statements and evidence to document an incident.[23}

This is from Wikipedia. The footnote is to look up: "Aragon, James R.; Messer, Tuuli Anna (2001). Master's handbook on ship's business. Cambridge, Md: Cornell Maritime Press. ISBN 0-87033-531-6."

If anyone has this book, could you see what it has to say?

It is interesting that there is a lot on admeralty law regarding compensation for a crew member or passanger who is "lost at sea", which includes both death and missing. Be sure that it would be looked at closely by any officials. Certainly a well kept log and lots of evidence will help.
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Old 04-03-2014, 22:22   #58
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

Georgia Boy,

You're absolutely correct that gallows humor can actually help you survive at times. Your examples were of stressful incidents.

I don't think an internet discussion qualifies as anywhere close to as stressful as the experiences you guys survived. And sorry for your losses, as it seems you've had more than your fair share.

When I first became interested in this thread, I made a bunch of incorrect assumptions, that it was aimed towards finding out what you should do if one of the two of you on board died a long way from port. That branch of the discussion covered what kind, if any, paperwork is necessary to protect your partner, and what that might be.

Then it all changed for me with the realization that it was a Puddle Jump Skippers' meeting which sparked the question, as it brought in the possibilities of non-related crew's and the skipper's responsibilities: a legal issue.

IMO, both are real life issues, though I definitely concede I think death at sea for cruisers in the hypothetical situation first raised is an unlikely event. For people who perceive those as issues that need addressing, I think the paperwork approach may help.

My basis for saying that people use humor to make thinking about something unpleasant "go away" is that it is a behavior I have seen many times, both at work and while cruising. (I was a chemical dependency prevention counselor in a previous incarnation, holding a Master's Degree Psychology, with a specialization in Chemical Dependency, before becoming a sailing bum.)

You wrote, "Gallows humor (amongst males anyway) can serve to foster a sense of solidarity in the face of inevitable death/danger, it can relieve tension, it can provide a bit of much needed bravado and can be a stepping stone to acceptance of ones own mortality." This is what I meant, the humor deflects the awfulness. I commented upon it so those who were so inclined could look at it. They could decide that if the behavior worked for them. They get to make their own decisions. I bet it works for females, too, I have surely seen women do it. Laughing about stuff you don't like or are scared of or cannot control minimizes it. Plus, it may make you feel more "in control". That laughing may help you survive in many ways.

Ann
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Old 04-03-2014, 22:46   #59
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

So, an example of gallows humor would be,
I guess while you're waiting to hear back from the authorities on what to do with the body, you can choose to fish or cut bait to pass the time.
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Old 04-03-2014, 22:57   #60
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

^^^^Quite so!

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