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Old 13-10-2018, 12:59   #1
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A Legal Question

Hello All-

I have a legal question that came up and would like advice from anyone with any knowledge on maritime law. This is an email sent to the other boat owner.

I’m sending this email to establish agreement of the facts leading up to yesterday’s accident, while they are still fresh in our minds.

* I arrived on 24 June and, with your assistance, checked in on 25 June.
* A few days later, you asked me to move my boat to its current location, so you would be better able to observe it while you cared for it during my absence.
* I departed by plane on 28 June.
* I returned on 18 September.
* Shortly after returning, I sent you an email stating that there was now a boat that was too close to mine that wasn’t there when I first anchored in this location.
* When I found out it was your boat, I asked you what we should do about it and you said you would move it.
* You tried to move it, but said you couldn’t get the anchor up with a north wind. Instead, you changed the scope of the anchor rode.
* I tried once to move my boat but found it, and the anchor, fixed.
* At 0300 on 8 October, I was woken by a crash, which was due to a collision of the two boats. I got fenders between them and moved my dinghy to minimize damage. The boats drifted apart and did not collide again for the rest of the morning.
* I radio’d you about 0800 that morning to tell you of the collision and you said you would be be by later that day to move your boat.
* At 1400, I radio’d again and you said that you had hurt your back and would be by later that day or the next to move it but that you did not expect another collision.
* I called again at 1600 to say that the boats were now getting very close, within meters, of each other and you said that you would move your boat tomorrow as you were still in pain. You also restated that you couldn’t move your boat with the wind coming from the north.
* Shortly after that, the boats collided. When the boats temporarily drifted apart, I quickly called you, which was when you said you were on your way to move your boat. Despite my efforts, your boat damaged my davits.
* After you arrived, you asked me to move my boat, which I tried again to do unsuccessfully, which was when you finally lifted your anchor and moved to another location.

My preference would be to get the davits fixed properly here. If that is impossible, a temporary fix here that would get my boat, my dinghy and me safely to Raiatea, where I could get it all fixed while in the hard, would be acceptable.

If you could at least confirm the above facts so we can establish agreement as to what happened. If you did

I like you personally and am grateful for your watching Serendipity while I was gone as well as your work on the watermaker.

After the accident, you offered your hand to me in friendship, which I accepted and which I believe is in both of our interests.

I will be by this morning to discuss options with you.

Thank you for your responses.
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Old 13-10-2018, 13:08   #2
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Re: A Legal Question

So what is your legal question?
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Old 13-10-2018, 13:10   #3
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Re: A Legal Question

Which country did this occur in?

Did you pay for this care?

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Old 13-10-2018, 14:16   #4
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Re: A Legal Question

My read, assuming US (though you in Polynesia--no idea what the rules are) law. This isn't advice, just curiosity as to others reactions:

* No payment, no contract.

* The first boat has rights to whatever space is required. This is very broad (admiralty law). But included is a responsibility for you to minimize risk and damage.

* You told him he was too close but did not move.

* No damage (or minimal) was done on the first strike. After that, you could have moved, but did not. You knew he would be delayed and you knew there was good probability of another strike. The anchor being stuck does not absolve your duty to move, since you could easily have left the anchor, placed a second anchor moving you away, or adjusted scope. You did not say there were storm conditions.
Bottom line: A judge would probably rule there is divided fault because of the considerable time you had to move or adjust. Storm conditions would be different, since moving is not a simple option.

I've never seen case law with a yacht, since insurance would handle it between companies.
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Old 13-10-2018, 15:07   #5
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Re: A Legal Question

In the absence of knowing any local rules, regulation and codes and being unfamiliar with where you were/are and in the absence of any question in your post, I'd advise -your boat, your problem.

But that was a nice attempt at displacing responsibility
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Old 13-10-2018, 17:00   #6
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Re: A Legal Question

In absence of any question being included by the OP, allow me to surmise that what he is wanting to know is if his e-mail will hold up as a statement of facts in a court of inquiry?

Regardless of that here are some of my concerns:

Your e-mail shows how your own negligence allowed the condition to stand and to evolve into the inevitable collision.

Apparently your (the OP) boat was adequately anchored but moved to a second location for the purpose of the attendant to better observe your boat while in your absence. Yet once you had returned and boarded your boat, the services of that attendant were no longer required yet your boat remained in that 2nd location.

You allowed a condition which you found unsatisfactory to exist for a period of weeks yet did nothing of your own to resolve the situation. Instead, you relied on one person who had shown he was unwilling or unable to comply with your requests. You state that your anchor was 'fixed' (do you mean fouled?) as reason why you could not move your boat. Why did you not take more action to safeguard your boat?

Could you not cut away your anchor to retrieve at a later time? Could you or others not dive on your anchor?

Your negligence allowed the collision of two anchored vessels and resulting damage to occur.

Your e-mail comes across as the wind up for a legal action. If it were addressed to me, I would ignore it. After all, you include a personal warmth which tells of a friendship you hope to preserve. I would expect a friend to present himself in person to discuss rather than beginning a paper trail.

My answer is for you to go present yourself to your friend and talk it out over food and beverage.
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