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Old 14-11-2022, 07:16   #1
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Avoiding fines

Hi,

Yesterday I had my very first true sailing experience.. and I guess these have to come with stories from experienced captains told to newbies like me. One story sounded a little incredible: a sailboat owner messing around in the North Sea who got fined an astronomical sum (10'000 - ten thousand - euro) for apparently "obstructing traffic in a traffic lane".

Are such huge fines possible? If so, which authority has the capability to hand out such fines?

Beyond the North Sea, what are the realistic/common possibilities surrounding getting fined while at sea? What can be the reasons and what can be the amounts?

To limit the context I'm only interested in situations where recreational sailboats get fined.. so fines relating to commercial activities are out of scope.
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Old 14-11-2022, 07:43   #2
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Re: Avoiding fines

More than a "little incredible" -10k fine for obstructing traffic? - this sounds like fiction to me. Your post sounds like you are trolling for book ideas (a not uncommon event around here).

I have never heard of a case where a cruising sailboat was "fined" for actions or operations at sea except for fishing without a permit, in Mexico. Pretty sure that has happened. Don't know what the fine is, highly doubt it is anything close to thousands of dollars...
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Old 14-11-2022, 07:44   #3
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pirate Re: Avoiding fines

The penalty is much higher in the Stait of Gibraltar though I have yet to hear of it being applied.
It is forbidden to cross the shipping lanes between Tarifa in the West and Europa Point in the East.
I think the fine can be up to 1 million euros.
I have been approached by police in the N Sea while becalmed and working on the engine of an old Americas Cup boat I was delivering.. after a lot of shouting and threats of penalties they towed me out of the lanes before casting off and leaving me to continue working on the engine.. thankfully a breeze sprang up a couple of hours later.
This was 12hrs after leaving Cuxhaven.
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Old 14-11-2022, 08:54   #4
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Re: Avoiding fines

If there was a collision or commercial vessel forced aground etc. I could see heavy fines being imposed. Here in the US, the Inland Rules chapter on Narrow Channels says " A vessel under 20 meters in length or a Sailing Vessel shall not impede the passage of a vessel using the channel." We see sailboats do it all the time, but never see any law enforcement doing anything about it. If there was a collision, especially with a commercial vessel, blame must be laid somewhere and with blame come fines. Unwritten Rule #1: "don't hit anything, don't let anything hit you."
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Old 03-12-2022, 11:24   #5
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Re: Avoiding fines

Commercial Yacht Skipper broke the rules in the Dover Straights and was found guilty. Not only fined, but lost his commercial ticket.

Two instances:

https://www.pbo.co.uk/news/6000-fine...iolation-12275

https://www.pbo.co.uk/news/skipper-f...over%20Straits.

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Old 03-12-2022, 11:44   #6
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Re: Avoiding fines

In the port of Gladstone in Queensland, Australia the fine for not reporting in to the harbor control is reputed if entering the designated harbor limits can be (from memory) up to A$27,000. The port is used by massive coal, LNG, exporters and mineral importers as well as fishing trawlers and pleasure vessels and is entered from the sea by large vessels along a 10 nm or so dredged channel through extensive offshore sand shoals.

The regulation is reputed to have been bought into force after a fishing trawler using the channel obstructed a large ore carrier. Trawler operators are fairly notorious for their disregard of the rules of the road in Australia.
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Old 03-12-2022, 12:12   #7
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Re: Avoiding fines

It's a good story, and a good way to remind beginners that there are rules, and they need to know and follow them. Whether or not the story is true is irrelevant.

These lanes are indicated on nautical charts, and should reference the regulations pertaining to them. You need to learn to read the charts and the regulations.
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Old 03-12-2022, 12:39   #8
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Re: Avoiding fines

Potty police love giving out fines in the States.

Also not having a whistle, etc in your dinghy
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Old 03-12-2022, 12:47   #9
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Re: Avoiding fines

You have to know the rules. They might be unenforced sometimes, but you’ll never know that in advance. I heard a long, very funny and unverified story about a fellow who was Court-martialed in Peru for not notifying them before entering their 200-mile EEZ. After several days of formal hearings, he was let off with a "Don’t do it again" speech. An hour long story over too many beers.
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Old 03-12-2022, 13:01   #10
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Re: Avoiding fines

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bycrick View Post
You have to know the rules. They might be unenforced sometimes, but you’ll never know that in advance. I heard a long, very funny and unverified story about a fellow who was Court-martialed in Peru for not notifying them before entering their 200-mile EEZ. After several days of formal hearings, he was let off with a "Don’t do it again" speech. An hour long story over too many beers.
I'd believe that story. He was lucky they didn't confiscate his boat - just because they could. It took a bloke I met in Ecuador 3 years to get his boat back.

Was in Puerto Williams, Chile in about '17 when a bloke who should have known better decided to sail down to the Horn from Ushuaia without checking in to Chile.
Back in Williams he faced a $US50,000 fine which he managed to get reduced to $5K. He and his yacht were then kicked out of the country and told never to come back.
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Old 03-12-2022, 14:25   #11
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Re: Avoiding fines

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bycrick View Post
about a fellow who was Court-martialed in Peru
"Court-martialed" ? I find that hard to believe.

"a judicial court for trying members of the armed services accused of offences against military law."
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Old 03-12-2022, 15:03   #12
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Re: Avoiding fines

That’s how he described it, although his Spanish was non-existent. "A bunch of officers in white uniforms around a long, green baize table. The only thing missing was a sword for me to fall on." Perhaps he’d seen too many movies. But I suspect that the gist of it is true. The point was not the legal technicalities, but rather that it’s very easy to get in very deeply without hardly trying.
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Old 03-12-2022, 16:28   #13
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Re: Avoiding fines

I have recently read of some fines related to USVI boats trying to pass through BVI waters - maybe something to do with fishing? Can't remember.

USCG can issue significant penalties for breaking rules that were introduced after Sept 11th - getting too close to naval or cruise ships, anchoring under a bridge, and maybe more.

I think dumping your holding tank in the wrong place can also get you a fine.
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Old 03-12-2022, 16:30   #14
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Re: Avoiding fines

We are given no time frame so Peru may well have been under martial law when this occurred so there would be no reason why, under the Peruvian criminal code, a civilian could not end up facing a court martial.
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Old 03-12-2022, 17:15   #15
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Re: Avoiding fines

Two examples from a quick search: $3500 fine for negligent operation (crossing the Tillamook Bar in Oregon when it was closed), and $300 and $3000 fines for getting too close to whales.

In the US, the current max fine for an operator or a vessel violating an International or Inland Nav Rule is about $16,307. For pollution (think oil discharge, etc) they can get higher. For a related series of violations the total max is $362,217 for a recreational vessel. (This is just from a quick search.)
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