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Old 18-05-2012, 15:22   #1
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Captain's Liability For Guests Aboard

Hi everyone.

As a new boat owner and now Captain, I have run into a situation that I need some advice on regarding liability.

I have been chatting with a fellow Canadian for the past few months who was working in the Caribbean for 7 months. Her situation concluded and she flew back to Canada briefly, then offered to fly out to help me sail my boat for a couple of weeks and show me the ropes...er lines.

She arrived a week ago today and has been sleeping on the boat in the Marina here and we have been doing day sails every couple of days as time allows.

Another friend of mine invited her on his boat for the day, as he is also a new skipper and boat owner of an Islander 30 and she is very experienced. She asked me if that was okay and I said of course, it was her choice and she didn't have to ask me. She started talking about how I was her responsibility as captain and because she was "living" on my boat, if anything happened to her I was responsible for her regardless of which boat she was on.

That comment kind of freaked me out, since she is not living on my boat. She's merely a guest who I met in person for the first time when I picked her up from the airport. She's not paid crew and we have only been out 3 afternoons in 7 days. I have fed her some, but she is also covering her own costs and sharing in the food costs. Now I'm really concerned about having people aboard at all, and what my responsibilities really are.

I have checked out some things regarding liability for injury, particularly about known or should have known hazards, but not about this business about if she chooses to go out with someone else.

I'm due to have two more friends come aboard tonight, stay the night in the marina and then go out for the day tomorrow, but am wondering if I should be getting everyone to sign waivers or what?? I have insurance but this really sounds strange to me.

Advice?
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Old 18-05-2012, 15:31   #2
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Re: Captain's Liability For Guests Aboard

Absolutely greater level or responsibility as a licensed Captain. What is your reason for getting the license?
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Old 18-05-2012, 15:41   #3
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Re: Captain's Liability For Guests Aboard

I'm not a licensed captain. I'm just a boat owner. She refers to me as captain, but I have no license and no real intention to get one unless it's necessary.
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Old 18-05-2012, 15:44   #4
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Re: Captain's Liability For Guests Aboard

if she is not on your crew list,legally you have no responsability to repatriate her .
on day sails you are only responsable for her safety if no money changes hands.
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Old 18-05-2012, 15:53   #5
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Re: Captain's Liability For Guests Aboard

Thanks Atoll.

She wants me to sign her log towards her ASA hours. Do I even have the authority to do that?
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Old 18-05-2012, 16:11   #6
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Re: Captain's Liability For Guests Aboard

Sure you can sign her log to atest to her sea time as an owner/non-licensed skipper. You should make it clear on her log you are not a licensed Captain but the vessel owner. She needs to document her sea time to pursue whatever certification she is going after.
If you are a licensed Captain, you do have a greater exposure under common and tort law because you are expected to operate your vessel at a higher standard and level of proficiency than non-licensed operators. For example, if there is a loose step on boat, and she takes a spill onto the galley floor, you might get sued either way but the payoff would be greater and more probable as a licensed skipper than a non-licensed captain be virtue of the fact that you should have known better as a professional to keep your boat in safe condition.
Not being an attorney, as long as your actions are not wilful, intentional or considered irresponsible, your liability should be no more than if someone fell down your stairs at your residence. A lot depends upon your resources.
If she is trying to lay responsibility for her welfare on you even away from your boat, because she happens to be crashing on your boat, I would probably terminate the relationship at the earliest you can. Finding folks to sail with you who can teach you what you need to know isn't dfifficult, particularly in MDR. I would be very wary, my friend... Capt Phil
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Old 18-05-2012, 16:14   #7
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Re: Captain's Liability For Guests Aboard

Have never heard of that one before! Does she also think that simply being aboard your boat means you are married?

Certainly as Skipper you have some duty of care for anyone onboard (and perhaps more so, or at least different for employees) - essentially if you do something stupid you will likely be liable as Skipper (or at least potentially have some claim that you are - whether correct or not). As Owner you may also be liable for the stupidity of the Skipper and / or condition of the boat. Certainly if she broke a leg onboard (or whatever - for whatever reason) I can see the potential for someone trying to claim on you / your insurance company, especially if Medical bills incurred. Some would of course also try a claim for simply a broken nail. or getting a bit wet . But that's people for ya.

Lots of "mays" in there. Certainly nothing slam dunk from the normal day to day usage (and expected rough and tumble) unless you do stuff like attach a machete to the boom - at head height, and insist the crew stand up during a tack .

As a rough comparision, I would say pretty much the same as if you had a passenger in a car (non-commercially).....any potential liability stops when they exit the car. and when she leaves your car it also doesn't mean you are married - unless you are in Vegas .

I am of course not a Lawyer!

What would concern me is that she is claiming to be experianced and has managed to come up with nonsense like that - makes me wonder what other rubbish she thinks is "normal", and is teaching you the same.

Of course she could simply be mental - and will later develop into your own pet Stalker
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Old 18-05-2012, 16:22   #8
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Re: Captain's Liability For Guests Aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS Little-Devil View Post
She wants me to sign her log towards her ASA hours. Do I even have the authority to do that?
You can sign whatever you like, no authority required - Just state the capacity in which you are doing that. I would sign it off as Owner & Skipper, maybe make it clear that you are not licensed - or simply indicate the same by not claiming you are (personally I would presume that a person was not licensed if they did not claim they were).

Whether or not she can use that towards her ASA hours is a matter for her (my bet is that if she is writing a cheque for another course then she can).
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Old 18-05-2012, 16:23   #9
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Re: Captain's Liability For Guests Aboard

If you are truly worried about your legal responsibilities and liability, the only certainty is that you won't get any authoritative or reliable info here. You really should consult with an attorney in whatever country/state you are currently in. The only thing you can reliably get from the internet is opinions and many of them uninformed.
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Old 18-05-2012, 16:24   #10
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Re: Captain's Liability For Guests Aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS Little-Devil View Post
Hi everyone.

As a new boat owner and now Captain, I have run into a situation that I need some advice on regarding liability.

I have been chatting with a fellow Canadian for the past few months who was working in the Caribbean for 7 months. Her situation concluded and she flew back to Canada briefly, then offered to fly out to help me sail my boat for a couple of weeks and show me the ropes...er lines.

She arrived a week ago today and has been sleeping on the boat in the Marina here and we have been doing day sails every couple of days as time allows.

Another friend of mine invited her on his boat for the day, as he is also a new skipper and boat owner of an Islander 30 and she is very experienced. She asked me if that was okay and I said of course, it was her choice and she didn't have to ask me. She started talking about how I was her responsibility as captain and because she was "living" on my boat, if anything happened to her I was responsible for her regardless of which boat she was on.

That comment kind of freaked me out, since she is not living on my boat. She's merely a guest who I met in person for the first time when I picked her up from the airport. She's not paid crew and we have only been out 3 afternoons in 7 days. I have fed her some, but she is also covering her own costs and sharing in the food costs. Now I'm really concerned about having people aboard at all, and what my responsibilities really are.

I have checked out some things regarding liability for injury, particularly about known or should have known hazards, but not about this business about if she chooses to go out with someone else.

I'm due to have two more friends come aboard tonight, stay the night in the marina and then go out for the day tomorrow, but am wondering if I should be getting everyone to sign waivers or what?? I have insurance but this really sounds strange to me.

Advice?

While you're at it, have everyone who steps on your property sign waivers, and have them ready should anyone ride in your car.

Waivers won't protect you if you're responsible for something. If the mast falls down and breaks someone's leg, you're probably liable. That's why you carry insurance -- because stuff happens.

Just because someone makes a claim doesn't make it true.
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Old 18-05-2012, 16:26   #11
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Re: Captain's Liability For Guests Aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS Little-Devil View Post
She started talking about how I was her responsibility as captain and because she was "living" on my boat, if anything happened to her I was responsible for her regardless of which boat she was on.
It might be time for her to find another boat to "live" on.
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Old 18-05-2012, 16:26   #12
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Re: Captain's Liability For Guests Aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS Little-Devil View Post
Thanks Atoll.

She wants me to sign her log towards her ASA hours. Do I even have the authority to do that?
as capt phil say by all means sign her log,it is only a record of sea time.

it might be an idea to have some form of 3rd party insurance for the boat,these days it is fairly common in europe and covers a certain amount of liability.
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Old 18-05-2012, 16:40   #13
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Re: Captain's Liability For Guests Aboard

S/V Illusion is correct, this is the wrong place to get legal advice... as a matter of fact any advice you get here is worth exactly what you pay for it! Capt Phil
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Old 18-05-2012, 18:38   #14
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Well here more internet wisdom.

Certainly under UK laws you are responsible to the extent that if she had an accident you "could" be considerable partially or fully liable, depending on the level of contributory negligence involved. This is irrespective of her "living" on the boat. It's a reason most people carry liability insurance generally as part of your boat cover. ( mine is 3 million) .

This is the same for anyone stepping on your boat so I wouldn't loose sleep over it.

Outside of that your responsibilities are more unclear. You could technically be obliged to repatriate her. But I d just give her a kick up the arse if she tried that.

I'd forget the waivers, they dont protect you. You can't force someone to sign away their rights.

I suspect shes maybe a little odd. Move her along soon. Don't fret, theres more oddballs in sailing then you can throw a stick at.

PS the sea time is a perfectly legitimate request. Just sign it as skipper ( it matters not whether you're licensed or not) its merely a signature to acknowledge she's done it, it not a function of your competence, merely your position.

Dave
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Old 19-05-2012, 03:01   #15
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Re: Captain's Liability For Guests Aboard

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Illusion View Post
If you are truly worried about your legal responsibilities and liability, the only certainty is that you won't get any authoritative or reliable info here. You really should consult with an attorney in whatever country/state you are currently in. The only thing you can reliably get from the internet is opinions and many of them uninformed.
Whilst I agree with you 100% - nonetheless some things are good to bounce off people at least to get a feel for how left field something is.....so can decide both whether a lawyer is worthwhile and also to get a handle on the questions to cover. Not to say that a lawyer knows everything (no magic solutions - just sometimes very useful but not always), and on many things it's really the big fella in the court who decides if something is ok, or not.....and that often after plenty of head scratching.

IMO checking out with a lawyer whether you are liable for someone when they are on someone else's boat is so far off the reservation that not worth the money on a lawyer. Of course not to say that OP won't need a lawyer if his crew / visitor / pet nutjob goes all legal - even if she is in legal fantasyland on getting a result .

But a decision each has to make.
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