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Old 04-03-2014, 23:21   #61
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

I thought I was being serious... oh well..

To summarise... there is no way you can keep a body aboard for more than a few days... you will have to bury it at sea regardless of the previous inhabitant's wishes... I want a cremation but accept that if I die at sea I am fish food.

You may be able to get someone off another yacht or another ship to come and take a looksee but the chances of them taking the body off your hands are about zero negative.


Getting the body on deck and over the side? This sheila managed it No Cookies | Herald Sun

Keep good records, written and photographic.

You will have to answer questions at the next port... but to be charged with murder? Unlikely unless there is blood and guts throughout the boat.

If your crew has been bludgeoned shot or stabbed there will be blood everywhere, if you throttled them there will be urine - thats how they pinned the Durban Castle murder on Camb.

Back in the dream time when I had a day job I had 3 die on ships I was on, the first two didn't really involve me... both buried at sea, one on a ship with a doctor, one on a ship without.

The third? News Years Morning 0500ish in the mid 70's the 'farmer' arrives on the bridge to advise me that the peggy is dead in his bunk... and he was too...


The old man who was a bit of a nutter decides to divert to Thevenard/Ceduna to land the body and insists we leave it in its bunk.... he thinks its a crime scene... not a good idea...

Next morning I was in charge of the team designated to get the corpse from bunk to pilot boat... the team ( his shipmates) were well pissed and dropped said corpse that many times, including down a ladder, that I'm surprised the autopsy didn't say he had been bludgeoned to death. The policeman tasked with taking the body from Ceduna to Port Augusta in the back of his 4wd with a forecast of 114F didn't seem real happy either.

Moving right along... on arrival in Fremantle the 'farmer', the 'Old Man' and I were interviewed for about 10 minutes each by some young bloke from the Mercantile Marine Office... job done..
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Old 04-03-2014, 23:26   #62
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

Our plan should I die below deck. 1. Make sure I'm dead. 2 put mine and her weight belts on me. 3. Make sure I'm dead. 4. Zip me into the single sleeping bag. 5. Make sure I'm dead. 6. Truss the sleeping bag with me in it like a pork loin roll.7. Make sure my feet are facing the companion way. 8. Take bitter end to cockpit. 9. Tie to sea anchor.10. Start engine and use full speed. 11. Deploy sea anchor.12. Step aside and wave good bye.

Edit. Make sure the camera is rolling because not only will it help with the authority's the last part will be a hit on YouTube.
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Old 04-03-2014, 23:43   #63
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reinhardt View Post
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.
You are close to my answer. Contact maritime attorney. The answers might vary based on where you are, where you came from and where you're headed.

I'm not going to make any major move without attorney advice in this situation.

If in friendly waters, would think contacting authorities would be appropriate. But if in certain areas, might want to change to land in different place than planned.
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Old 05-03-2014, 00:54   #64
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

As an attorney, I can say that what many are looking for here, some law or authority on what to do, simply does not exist. This assumes you are in international waters. At sea, you are not in any legal jurisdiction, so there is no law, other than the oft cited "Law of the Sea" which really isn't a law per se but a series of treaties intended mainly to govern commerce, in one form or another, over international waters. These treaties exost precisely because no national law applies.

So, if you show up in port missing a crewmember, the first thing someone in that country has to figure out is whether you were even in their jurisdiction when the death occurred. Admittedly, some respect such legal niceties less than others, but absent some determination of jurisdiction, there is little they can do. At least in the US, if your boat is documented, the US can claim jurisdiction wherever in the world your boat may be. You are a little piece of the US floating around the world.

As to advice on what to do, I would of the opinion that practicality controls. One cannot be expected to keep a dead body aboard a small vessel for any extended period of time. So, a burial at sea would have to suffice. The best advice given here so far is to document everything as completely as possible, with photos and video. If there are any ships in the area, try to contact them if for no other reason than to have a disinterested party to support the event. If you have communications, satphone, SSB or whatever, contact someone ASAP.

That seems to me to be about the best that you can do.

As an aside, the US Navy does offer a burial at sea for Naval Officers and spouses. My father was a USMC officer and a Naval Academy grad. When my mother passed away several years ago, she was buried at sea off the Dominican Republic (in international waters of course!). The shroud was a US flag, the Navy sent us a DVD of the entire service on deck and the burial. It was quite dignified and moving.
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Old 05-03-2014, 01:30   #65
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann T. Cate View Post
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
Ah: I understand, and I sincerely apologise. I agree that death is very confronting for most of us, and I agree with your last paragraph especially.
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Old 05-03-2014, 01:40   #66
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

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You are close to my answer. Contact maritime attorney. The answers might vary based on where you are, where you came from and where you're headed.

I'm not going to make any major move without attorney advice in this situation.

If in friendly waters, would think contacting authorities would be appropriate. But if in certain areas, might want to change to land in different place than planned.
I'm waiting on a response. The website of the attorney's concerned note that they are specialist litigators in relation to deaths at sea, and especially accidental death in international waters. This is of especial interest to us yachties as there is always the remote possibility that a guest on our baby might get themselves fatally injured on a trip.

They give a number of examples regarding deaths on large liners and commercial freighters (the body goes in the freezer), but nothing in regards to much smaller vessels.

I'm just as interested in anyone else. Let's wait and see.

Personally, if I pop off at sea, I could think of nothing finer than being dropped into the briny that is, in my humble opinion, the finest place on earth.
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Old 05-03-2014, 01:45   #67
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

Just to add to this, because it is a really interesting thread, is: do people really understand what their obligations and powers are once their sailboat enters international waters?
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Old 05-03-2014, 01:54   #68
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

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Originally Posted by Reinhardt View Post
Just to add to this, because it is a really interesting thread, is: do people really understand what their obligations and powers are once their sailboat enters international waters?
Reinhart,

I would guess few understand. How many have ever taken a class in maritime law? Or even taken a peek at some of the treaties that govern international sea?

Many posters on this forum seem to think that the law in their home country applies everywhere else (they are in for a rude surprise).
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Old 05-03-2014, 08:23   #69
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

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Oh my lord imagine crossing paths with that sailboat!! be an eye opener!
Now that'd be what I call flyin' the skull and crossbones fer real!
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Old 05-03-2014, 13:23   #70
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

Reinhardt,

It sounds like you are talking about an attorney that deals with Jones Act seamen, and deaths under US law. I know a little about it but those two acts don't really apply here. They are concerned with civil liability for crew members of commercial vessels who die. Think workers compensation law but maritime.

I got interested and tried to do some research on this, but frankly hit a wall. The situation is so rare I couldn't find any reported case law or legislation that controls.

As Jay mentioned above, I would think good documentation of what you did including pictures video, ect. Would be critical, a ships log of what happened, and what you think made at the time, then a reasonable disposal of the body. A small confined space with no refrigeration is a poor place to keep a body. You could quite litterly be risking your life by keeping it, since disease is a quick follower to decomposition.

Remember in law necessity is a defense to criminal charges, and I think when far from land you could easily argue that it was impossible to keep a body aboard in those situations.
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Old 05-03-2014, 17:44   #71
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

Quote:
Originally Posted by SimonV View Post
Our plan should I die below deck. 1. Make sure I'm dead. 2 put mine and her weight belts on me. 3. Make sure I'm dead. 4. Zip me into the single sleeping bag. 5. Make sure I'm dead. 6. Truss the sleeping bag with me in it like a pork loin roll.7. Make sure my feet are facing the companion way. 8. Take bitter end to cockpit. 9. Tie to sea anchor.10. Start engine and use full speed. 11. Deploy sea anchor.12. Step aside and wave good bye.

Edit. Make sure the camera is rolling because not only will it help with the authority's the last part will be a hit on YouTube.
Sent from my GT-N7105T using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app

My apologies to Ann, but that's funny.
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Old 06-03-2014, 07:21   #72
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

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In the days of yore, the body was sewn into his hammock with a cannon ball at his feet; the last stitch was thru the nose of the deceased,just in case.

Peter Tangvald ,mentioned above,was arrested and had all kinds of problems (in Singapore ? )when he arrived without his wife who fell overboard and was lost after being shot by pirates.
Captn. Voss, of log canoe fame, also was known to have arrived at his various destinations with out his crew that had a propensity to disappear in mid Pacific.
Come to think of it,I have sailed with some pretty grumpy crew myself.

……………………….luv you all…………………..mike………………………………………..


as a footnote to the above: The authorities were" convinced" that Tangvald was a murderer because he and his young son were alive! They knew well that encounters with these pirates usually resulted in the entire crew dead,you know,dead men tell no tales, and therefor little embarrassment to the Gov. as to the out of control pirate problem. The wife was shot as she confronted these criminals and Tangvald himself was puzzled why he was not shot by the man holding the gun on him but as his young son was now clinging to him ,T. surmises he was spared since the son would be given a death sentence when the child was left to die a slow death alone.
Tangvald did however go thru wives faster than Voss went thru crew, but these were affairs of the heart not malice.

This business of sweeping inconvenient news under the carpet to avoid damaging tourism /investment /other, is common at many levels from the police to top levels of governments.
There was a raging drug trade in the Bahamas when I cruised there in the early 1980s, and woe to any cruiser who got between the smugglers and their profits. Some did and ended up as shark fodder. Inquiries about missing sailors were met with official denial until a US congressman on a charter happened upon a yacht with a murdered crew and took gruesome photos that were subsequently published.
In these remote islands I felt an occasional need to turn on my deck lights to avoid being hit by fast low flying helicopters avoiding radar w/o lights.And you thought all those Vietnam hele pilots were un employed when the war ended! We all knew that there were places to avoid and/or look the other way( e.g. Normans key). But while looking the other way one might easily encounter a stray bale of high grade ganga floating about. I found two and this did much to insure against the necessity of murdering any wife or crew. It did take some time to find my way back to theU.S..

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Old 08-03-2014, 11:11   #73
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

As an aside , Tangvald and his daughter were lost at night when they sailed up on rocks off the ABC islands . His son Tomas , 16 y.o. , was being towed in his own boat and survived by sailing ashore on a windsurfer . I kinda kept up with Tomas for awhile but last heard about him in the mid 90s . Peter was still a hard worker and sailor into his older age . He was 30 years older than I but could work me into the ground , working construction on Culebra and Isletta .
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Old 08-03-2014, 11:30   #74
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

I haven't read the entire thread, but if you think death is a possibility and are prepared to deal with it. Get a military body bag, they are tough and seal real well. Putting the body in a bag, then in a dinghy and towing it makes sense.
A few of us used to use body bags as sleeping bag covers when I was in Bosnia, worked great, others couldn't do it.

Just Google body bag
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Old 08-03-2014, 12:35   #75
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Re: What if.....There's a death at sea

"At sea, you are not in any legal jurisdiction, so there is no law, other than"
Not so. At sea, you are still subject to all the laws of your sovereign. And if any of those have to do with improper disposal, burial, etc. they will still apply to you in international waters.

Show up with one crew missing, anywhere in the world, and the odds are you and the vessel will be detained, or you will be told to stay in town, until an investigation has taken place. Much of the world still follows "guilty until proven innocent" so your next landfall could be an important choice.

Now on a more serious note, isn't dumping something that big overboard still a MARPOL violation?
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