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Old 02-08-2007, 06:05   #1
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Unhappy Renaissance rammed

I don't know how to put this in writing as we are still in shock. Last Wed evening our boat was involved in a collision with the town harbormaster's pumpout boat while sitting on her mooring. Apparently the operator of the pumpout boat while giving chase to a boat that was speeding into the harbor lost his balance and fell out of the boat while going full speed and the boat continued unmanned slamming into our boat and then continued to run circles around our boat hitting it two or three more times before stopping. Needless to say the damage to our boat is quite extensive. The boat will have to be hauled and the interior will have to be taken out to access the total damage.
We are being told to let our insurance company to handle the claim which I think will increase my payments in the future not to mention all the work that we did over the last four years by ourselves is gone.
I was wondering if anyone on this forum has a simular experince and what we should do.

love to hear any imput
dazed and confused
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Old 02-08-2007, 06:27   #2
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Wow! That's wild Capden! Must have been like an episode of the Twilight Zone!

Don't know how it works there but I assume the harbor carries some sort of liability insurance or they underwrite this sort of thing themselves. I'd let your insurance company deal with the details but I don't see how it could affect your insurance costs. You definitely weren't at fault.

Contact the police to see if criminal charges are likey for the speeding boat. It seems kind of comical that a pumpout boat was the pursuit boat. That would seem to me to be somewhat negligent on the operators part.

The thing to do in this case is keep your documentation and story straight. Keep a record of all conversations, who said what, when etc. That may be important later. Try to remain calm and deal with the officals who'll get involved in a professional manner. It's hard but it'll help move the process along more smoothly. Photograph everything. Damage inside and outside. Keep a list of equipment etc. that was damaged. Your insurance will appreciate that as they'll inventory everything in dealing with the claim.

Glad nobody got hurt. Don't dispair.
Yours Aye! Rick
"It's not the boat "you built" until you've sworn at it, bled on it, sweated over it, cried beside it and then threatened to haul the POS outside and burn it!"
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Old 02-08-2007, 06:34   #3
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What harbor was this?

And why is the pump out boat operating like a police boat?

Excessive speed in anchorage and channels is very troubling and needs to be curtailed. The same applies to these thunderous cigarette which speed around at 60 - 80 MPH where other slower moving vessels are.

There is a role for marine police to go after speeders.. but the harbor master? in a pump out boat? Is this guy crazy?

I would pursue this operator and see that he is never allowed to operate a boat again.. well for 75 years...

I would be majorly pissed if this happened.

I won't be visiting that harbor. Do tell.

sv shiva
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Old 02-08-2007, 07:11   #4
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Twilight zone, more like nightmare on elm st. Thanks for the info Rick. The only person who saw the speeding boat out of over 50 witness was the dupty in the pump out boat. A few witness said that the dupty looked like a cowboy. Jeff I don't think I should say where you know legal crap but it is close to Boston. Your right about pump out boat is not to be used in law enforcement. We are very pissed and think we should get more that just the boat repaired. As I said in my first post this guy took away something that meant an awful lot to both of us. When we bought this boat it was in rough shape and over the last 4 years we made her a beautiful boat again. When we sat back and looked at her sitting on our mooring we were proud. We never did anything like this before. Yes she will be beautiful again, I hope (as the boat could be a total loss,) that's what been taken away from us.

I posted a couple of pic in profile
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Old 02-08-2007, 07:32   #5

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Going the insurance route is the easiest way to go, but I guess it would depend on just how pissed off you are. I just looked at the photos of your boat and she is a beauty.

If it were my boat, I'd hire the best attorney I could find and file a law suit for damages based on negligence. It's certainly worth a couple of phone calls for legal advice at any rate.
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Old 02-08-2007, 08:04   #6
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I was hit at anchor a few years ago in the Bahamas. I let everything go through my insurance company. There was no increase in my premiums and I did not have to pay the deductible because it was the other party's fault. My buddy and I boarded the boat that hit me, I got tbe two operator's driver licenses to get all the data on them. They had no insurance policy on board but claimed they were insured. I borrowed a buddy's satphone to contact the other party's insurance agent. Got all the details and also got the person who was operating the boat (not the owner who was down below at the time) to sign a statement I drafted admitting liability. The agent had told the owner not to admit anything. The town would have insurance to cover this, put it in the hands of your insurance company.
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Old 02-08-2007, 11:50   #7

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Captden, I'd be worried about the insurance companies. Depending on your state laws, they may treat this as a motor vehicle accident and who knows what is involved or what the state laws are regarding that. Your insurance company may do what most "motor vehicle" insurers do, look at the "book" value of your boat (which ignores all the work you put in) and decide to total it out if the damage exceeds a certain portion.

I don't know--I'm not saying they will, but this is something to look into before you "give away" anything to the insurer's hands. Some are much better than others.

The first thing is to get your boat hauled and surveyed for the damage, and BE THERE to make sure all the damage is noted and written up. Sometimes things just get missed.

I think I'd also want to spend an hour (even if it has to be paid for) with a local attorney who is NOT affiliated with the township, to inquire about state laws and what your options may be to ensure that you are "made whole" again, regardless of how the insurance companies and motor vehicle laws might limit payments and actions.

Like Rick suggests, you may have options to file for negligence, gross negligence (way bigger issue), and other avenues to recover if the town doesn't come forward and say "We'll pay for all repairs" quickly and politely. Whether you live aboard, or just sail, you may also seek damages for loss of use, as a percent of the annual operating costs of the boat.

If they don't play nice--toss the carrots and get out the big stick, fast.
See that local lawyer to find out your options, and then give the town one fast chance to play nice. Sailing season is ticking away, sounds like you will have no boat in the water for another 4-6 weeks at best.

Skidoos and many other fast craft have "deadwires" on the ignition, to kill the ignition if the operator goes overboad. Need to put the town attorney off balance? Suggest that it was gross neglicence not to have one on the pumpout boat, they could have EASILY and CONVENIENTLY made sure it could not be operated without the operator. Yeah, he may laugh, but he also knows that's enough to make it an expensive jury trial.

Who knows...maybe they'll do the right thing. If they do, change the name of the boat to "THANK YOU, TOWN OF xxxxx". <G>
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Old 02-08-2007, 12:03   #8
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Aside from the repairs, this man and his family have lost the use of their boat and will loose all the time associated with its repair.

This is a case for a tort action and I am no lawyer. Most likely the municipality who operated the pump out boat is properly insured and will settle out of court. Get a good lawyer and make sure THEY pay the legal fees.

I am pissed and saddened by this.

If we can help... let us know.

I won't be visiting any harbors near Beantown and I loved Marblhead. Bummer.

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Old 02-08-2007, 12:24   #9
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Sue, sue, sue!!! Advice like this you don't need. Initially the best approach is to talk to your insurance agent and see how it develops. I know the immediate reaction is to try and get your pound of flesh from those that caused this damage but a better approach would be to get the matter settled as quickly as possible through the insurers. Litigating right away only benefits the lawyers and I assure you will prolong the process... and the result is never a "slam dunk". You might lose. You will never be made whole, loss of use etc., so try for getting your boat back, good as ever, as soon as possible.
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Old 02-08-2007, 12:35   #10
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Also, if you are going to consult a lawyer, you want an admiralty specialist - there are plenty in Boston. This is not a state law case; it is governed by Federal maritime law.
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Old 02-08-2007, 14:32   #11
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Ok as I have a job that deals with the event that I may "break" someone elses property, I know a bit. Most towns/cities if your property is damaged by a goverment worker require you to fill out and submit a form that your property was damaged and you wish to be reimbursed. It is not a big deal I just want to make sure you think of everything.
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Old 02-08-2007, 15:36   #12

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Horrible story... wow. Sorry to hear about all that damage to a boat you have obviously poured heart and soul into.

I would definitley document everything - times, damage (photos/video), dates, witnesses, everything you can. Get it all on paper and keep 100% accurate records. That's your safety.

From there, feel out your insurance company. See if they are going to cover everything, when they will cover it, and if they will be going after the town to set your boat right again. Make sure all estimates include YARD LABOR and parts, not your own labor. You shouldn't have to be in a boatyard fixing this boat in a case like this. (unless you keep a little settlement for a cruising kitty and do all the labor yourself) Otherwise, they should pay labor.

Lastly, I would not do like many have suggested (suing, going all out to take on the town, trying to "cash in.") This simply doesn't work and will eat you up emotionally. While I can appreciate the extreme psychological depression/angst you probably have, juries/judges will NOT award you money for this. You didn't suffer psychological damages land lubbers can appreciate and my feeling is that you won't be awarded a dime for "emotional stress". You will put in a lot of effort to try and recover more than your damages, waste countless hours, and then end up with nothing more than your damages. So... just go for a very healthy amount of damages (YARD labor & parts to restore her to original shape). Best to concentrate on the ACTUAL damages which include someone else fixing the boat and put 100% effort into that rather than shooting for some "pie in the sky" lawsuit.
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Old 02-08-2007, 19:59   #13
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Aloha Captden,
All I can do is offer sympathy. Very sorry this could happen to you or any one of us.
Kind Regards,
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Old 02-08-2007, 22:57   #14
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Revenge or a good boat....

When I was in a not totally dissimilar situation (lawsuit or boat) I chose the boat.

I think that if you go for having your boat properly fixed by good professionals with top quality materials that the other parties may well come to the party.
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Old 03-08-2007, 14:42   #15
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I too can only offer my sympathy, for the damage done to your beautiful boat.

I would have the city/harbor, pay for the damage. And have them foot the bill. Since you stated, it was the harbormaster who caused the accident in the first place.

And what sullivan said, that's what I also advise you to do as well.
ssullivan - I would definitley document everything - times, damage (photos/video), dates, witnesses, everything you can. Get it all on paper and keep 100% accurate records. That's your safety.
I wish you the best of luck, that you get the boat repaired.


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