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Old 06-10-2014, 00:55   #76
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

As the original poster - let me add a thought. Off-line I was asked why I posted this, because it is a question with no real answer (the answer is completely dependent on our own sense of morality).

I believe (as noted above) that this scenario will be played out more and more often as illegal immigration attempts by boat continue to increase.

Knowing that - I think it is a good idea to spend some time thinking this through BEFORE ending up in the situation.

Someone made the point that his training as a lifeguard forced him to be aware that he might have to let one person drown to save another (or to save himself). The reason for that training is so that he will make the right decision when the time comes without spending lots of time thinking about it.

Reading this thread, I've amended my initial position. I now think the best thing is to sail away and once over the horizon, notify the authorities via VHF.

The reason for this is that desparate people do desparate things. If you are too close - you might end up in a situation where your boat (and yourself and crew) are at risk.
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Old 06-10-2014, 01:13   #77
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

Carsten, I have to agree with you. There are a number of thorny issues here, and reason, to sort it all out, is needed. Planning ahead is a good idea, precept, whatever. And, thanks for posting it. It is far better to live in the world as it is than the world as we wish it might be.

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Old 06-10-2014, 01:46   #78
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

I'm with Carsten and Anne.

It was an interesting thought exercise and not just for the Eastern Med. Well worth thinking about before you encounter it.
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Old 06-10-2014, 02:52   #79
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

Well said Ann!
Lots of issues and no real perfect answer.
Good to think things through in the safety of the theoretical.
To all who are sailing in the Med., please stay safe.
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Old 06-10-2014, 03:41   #80
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

Quote:
Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
As the original poster - let me add a thought. Off-line I was asked why I posted this, because it is a question with no real answer (the answer is completely dependent on our own sense of morality).

I believe (as noted above) that this scenario will be played out more and more often as illegal immigration attempts by boat continue to increase.

Knowing that - I think it is a good idea to spend some time thinking this through BEFORE ending up in the situation.

Someone made the point that his training as a lifeguard forced him to be aware that he might have to let one person drown to save another (or to save himself). The reason for that training is so that he will make the right decision when the time comes without spending lots of time thinking about it.

Reading this thread, I've amended my initial position. I now think the best thing is to sail away and once over the horizon, notify the authorities via VHF.

The reason for this is that desparate people do desparate things. If you are too close - you might end up in a situation where your boat (and yourself and crew) are at risk.
Carsten, it is not that simple.
Firstly the smuggler may hear your transmission and just dump the people overboard. It may be hours before coastguard arrive and simply finding these people in gale force conditions is a near impossible task.
Secondly as soon as a coastguard vessel is sighted, he will probably do so and make his escape. It is unlikely all would be recovered safely.

Making that call will almost certainly result in loss of life.

I agree that is is good to think beforehand about how this is best handled. This is happening in the area we are currently in and thousands of refugees/migrants have drowned as a result of the action of smugglers.
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Old 06-10-2014, 04:29   #81
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

Lassie - no moral question are easy when pondered enough (sigh).

You are perfectly correct in pointing out that calling the coast guard may result in the refugees being dumped overboard.

An analogy - you witness someone being mugged. Do you:

1- go to their aid, realizing you are putting your own life and safety at risk?
2- Call the police - realizing the muggers may just kill the victim when they hear the sirens?

Illegal immigration is a crime. As is smuggling illegal immigrants/refugees.

Does doing nothing make you culpable if someone falls off the boat and drowns?

Actually - damned if I know the real answer. I think I know what I will do if I end up in this situation and I think it is a good idea for most cruisers to ponder it also.

There is no question in my mind what I would do if I saw one of them fall off - I'd help.
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Old 06-10-2014, 04:36   #82
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

Okay, suppose I sighted people in the conditions of the original post. One knows in one's heart they're endangered, by life, by their circumstances. Now, suppose I'm skippering my boat. Still, it's blowing 33 gusting 40, and it's lumpy short chop. It's dark as the inside of a cow. If there are 50 of them at a displacement of 5 tons, could one imaginably take them aboard safely? [Aside to accomplice: my boat displaces 12 tonnes, I do not think 5 k would be a prudent addition.] Could one (like you or me) triage them? Some of them? What happens then? And then, after we've worked out our morality, and rationalized what we might think would be our decisions, what would we actually do? Generally speaking, if you don't react with your primitive brain and do pause to rationally consider, your decisions will be based in reason, and as cwyckham and Double Whiskey both mentioned, as did someone else, sorry i didn't remember who, we really don't know in advance what we'd do. Many of us are inclined to react on an emotional basis, but if there is real danger to the boat and crew, that's really out, IMO. It IS selfish, and non-compassionate, but the job of the skipper is to protect the welfare of the vessel and the crew, above all other considerations. One might have nightmares long afterwards.

In a way it's reminding me of self defense classes for women. I took my daughter to one such, countless years ago. The instructor asked, are you willing to risk killing your assailant. I said yes, my daughter, no. My feeling was basically why not, he wants to kill and defile me, why should I put up with that?, no I'll not succumb so easily. My daughter thought that she could probably survive the violation that was inconceivable to me. So you can see that even within a family, there can be huge variations of attitudes......and thus it is with the refugees as well. I submit that one cannot count on their beneficence.

So after dithering, what do I do, that night? Nothing? continue on my course, continue and then involve the authorities, hide over the horizon and await events?

I think it's a heck of a question and that our individual answers will be informed by our life experiences.

Ann

And I still say people in the water's a different problem.
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Old 06-10-2014, 04:38   #83
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

A bit curios as to why we assume the skipper (aka people smuggler) has so much power over 50(ish) passengers. Does he (?) have a decent sized crew of thugs aboard to maintain control or is armed or what.

It would seem that 50 desperate people would have some power over the skipper / crew of the said vessel.

We seem to be thinking they have no control of their own situation and that we (the cruising white middle class) must take charge and be the saving force.

This well might be but until this is established, perhaps the passengers are actually already getting what they want. Are they really victims?

I accept that the situation would be different if the boat breaks up or flounders in some way.
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Old 06-10-2014, 04:45   #84
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

Just a couple of more things to 'ponder' over this moral question.

Firstly, it is not and never has been 'illegal' in any country for refugees to come by boat. This has been well documented and exposited repeatedly. Unfortunately some governments have won the propaganda war and convinced many to ignore the legalities. It is illegal in some countries such as Australia to facilitate refugees travel for payment. 'Illegal' immigration is largely about overstaying visa's.

Secondly, it's not participating in people smuggling by helping those in need on the seas, providing food, water and safety etc.

Lastly, very few countries and only one civilized western country 'send back' refugees without first 'testing' their claim to be refugees. Australia is one of those, but the legalities of continuing to do this is being challenged and hopefully soon will be stopped.

As for the OP post. I'd keep my distance and immediately call the coast guard. The sooner the coast guard responds the safer for all concerned.
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Old 06-10-2014, 07:13   #85
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

Wotname, if this is a smuggling boat you can rest assured the crew can control the passengers to the point of forcing them off the boat. Protecting their means of conducting their business (and lives as well) is foremost.

While reading this stream I was reminded of a somewhat similar issue that has happened in recent years. It came to me when folks mentioned the possibility of smugglers taking over cruisers vessels if they saw those Samaritans coming to the aid of the passengers in dire straights. Human trafficking remains a major problem in Africa. Folks, often young girls, are sold into slavery at an distressing rate, Some folks have tried to alleviate the suffering of some of these unfortunate people buy actually going to the slave markets and buying them. I tried to find out more info about this - there have been mixed results. I had heard it actually increased the folks being enslaved so that sellers could make more profit but could not find confirmation. Not exactly on point but the trend in the stream reminded me.

An interesting subject. i may end up in the eastern Med at some point and will watch these events.
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Old 06-10-2014, 07:45   #86
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

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When I took my life guard training, it was pounded in our head that no matter what, it was better one drown than two. The rescuer is always at risk and we were taught various ways to mitigate that, which as a final result, may end in the death of the victim.

It was tough to visualize that, and fortunately I never had to make that decision, but our training was such that it could be that a fatal decision had to be made. I would have had nightmares if I was the one who had to let someone drown to not endanger myself to the point where I would become a victim also.
Reminds me of the protypical star trek episode, they are given an impossible choice where either answer has collateral damage and somehow they find a way to avoid the choice. Real life isn't so neat and clean.

In real life, I'm going to look at the situation and make a hard choice. Yes, first and foremost, I'm going to protect myself and my family, then do what I feel I can safely do. Most likely that will be moving to what I feel is a safe distance and then contacting the CG.
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Old 06-10-2014, 08:02   #87
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

Wotname - with the probable situation of a smuggler skippering the ship, the smuggled ones most likely have no idea how to handle a boat or as someone else suggested, even swim. I suspect they become sheeple, much like many other situations where people do not fight back and just wait for the end. Or, unable to think for themselves.
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Old 06-10-2014, 08:18   #88
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

Quote:
Originally Posted by carstenb View Post
Lassie - no moral question are easy when pondered enough (sigh).

You are perfectly correct in pointing out that calling the coast guard may result in the refugees being dumped overboard.

An analogy - you witness someone being mugged. Do you:

1- go to their aid, realizing you are putting your own life and safety at risk?
2- Call the police - realizing the muggers may just kill the victim when they hear the sirens?.
If we stick to the initial scenario of a vessel just being sighted, your analogy is not a good one.

Firstly "going to their aid" is not a great option. The boat may look overcrowded, but there is no indication they are in distress.

So the question is whether or not you call officials.

In this case calling officials will almost certainly result in deaths. These smugglers just simply dump people in the water at the first sighting of any boat that may be water police. Conditions such as described means it is highly unlikely all would be rescued. Even worse if they dumped them hearing your call - there is a low chance any of them would survive. Coastguard response time here can be lengthy.

On the other hand doing nothing means they may survive. The odds may be lousy, but they are still much higher than if the coastguard is called.

This is my reasoning behind not making the call if a vessel is simply spotted. I think doing something than is highly likely to place lives in jeopardy is the wrong thing to do. Just my opinion though .

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There is no question in my mind what I would do if I saw one of them fall off - I'd help.
Well, that is against what quite a number of members here say they would do. This is what I find hard to understand.

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A bit curios as to why we assume the skipper (aka people smuggler) has so much power over 50(ish) passengers. Does he (?) have a decent sized crew of thugs aboard to maintain control or is armed or what.
A lot of these are families with kids and older people. I do not know what they do, but probably force them off at gunpoint. They do make swim at some stage though. They are not nicely dropped off on some jetty.

In the case of the people NornaBiron helped ashore recently, the captain of the vessel apparently forced them off as soon as NornaB's lights were spotted just in case it was an official's boat in the anchorage. They had a long swim. Luckily conditions were very calm.
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Old 06-10-2014, 08:37   #89
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

I have had that situation happen about 5-years ago.

I was Chief Mate/Relief Captain on a 225-ft US government research ship. We were headed down to Puerto Rico from Florida and encountered - actually nearly rammed - a 45-ft open deck wooden sloop packed with people - guessing 90+.

It was about 2300 on a moonless night. They had no navigation lights on. They were sailing with the wind and seas (we were plowing into them) and were making good speed. They had about 18-inches of freeboard. Nearest land was probably 20 miles away, the US was probably 200 miles away.

I was on watch and the Captain was also on the bridge to get some coffee. All of a sudden out of the blackness came the sloop about 200-ft from our port side. Never saw them on radar, they never showed any signal - scared the poop out of me!

We looked at them, we could see them looking at us. So what to do? They were in no immediate danger - other than being on a rickety old wooden sailing boat that was grossly overloaded with no navigation lights and probably no lifejackets or rafts.

My opinion was that they were obviously people trying to make it to the US and were willing to risk their lives to do it. We all knew if we called the USCG that they would send them all back to their homeland, and they would lose everything that they had risked to reach their destination.

We huddled and talked it over and everyone that was on the bridge felt the same way, so we silently wished them god speed and let them sail on.

Right, wrong? I have never forgotten the looks on their faces and always wondered/hoped that they made it.

In today's world, I don't know if I would do the same thing...
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Old 06-10-2014, 12:05   #90
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Re: Skipper's Duty Towards Refugees

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Firstly, it is not and never has been 'illegal' in any country for refugees to come by boat. This has been well documented and exposited repeatedly. Unfortunately some governments have won the propaganda war and convinced many to ignore the legalities. It is illegal in some countries such as Australia to facilitate refugees travel for payment. 'Illegal' immigration is largely about overstaying visa's.
Dear Rustic Charm!

Please, make me a favour. Take Your boat, drop Your passport and all documents overboard, do not apply for any visa, sail to the United States, Canada, Japan, or any European country and claim, that You are coming legally because You are coming by boat. Next please, post report here.

With my very best regards,

waiting, but not holding my breath,

Tomasz
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