ok, well, here is my take on this whole thing (after kicking it around for a while and reading other posts):
First, i think rd screwed up getting on that boat. I have been in that situation before and i declined to go. Come to find out the boat nearly sank twice too... So a good decision i guess.
I also think it is really easy for a lot of us to sit here on sn and say 'rd, you should not have gotten on that boat' versus being there in that position and not doing it. Reality is that most people would have done exactly what he did... Especially those without boats. My personal situation is that i own my boat, can go anywhere i want to, am fulltime cruising (and have a family i raise on board), so i can look at the boat and tell you to screw off and mean it... I got my own ride. Dont need yours. I sail or am on a boat everyday.
Another point is that i do not believe rd should even be discussing suing someone over this. I mean, really, what are you going to get? And is it even worth the headache? And if i was dead-set on suiing someone, i sure as hell wouldnt be mentioning it on sn or any other large forum! Just let it be, rd, let it go.
So do i think rd screwed up on that boat? Wasn't there, but yes, i think he can probably take some blame. He could have split up the watches, he could have helped educate the capt, he could have taken the leader position, kept his fists at bay, tried reasoning more, tried being more subsidiary to the captain(s), etc. A simple, "you are the captain, you are the boss," might have gone a long way. Maybe not?? But that's the truth.
All that said, the absolute responsibility for the survival and safety of that crew rests solely with the captain (note, i did not say happiness, but that may or may not happen too). The captain of that boat, no matter what kind of crew hes got, was still his crew and his responsibility. He picked them! I think people fail to realize the incredible responsibility placed on the captain of a boat. I will give you an example:
Just got back from key west cruise a few weeks ago (as everyone knows). I took a large group out (my kids, wife, and eight other adults) about twenty miles nw of key west for a diving trip on my boat. As we approached the reef, a waterspout formed behind us and approached us. We were put into a position of having to decide where to go and what action to take. Everyone had an opinion, but in the end, it was all mine. I had the responsibility for everyone on that boat and my decision is what we would do. Turns out the ws missed us, but the point is that when someone gets on your boat, you, as the captain, are responsible for them and their lives. I knew that and so did those travelling with me.
Given that, i hold the captain of that boat primarily at fault. He should have checked out jake further and known that rd had no kite experience. He should have accounted for the water and for how the crew would function together. He should have known his short comings flying a kite at night. When things got rough, he should have stepped up like a man and become a leader that calmed the situation down and kept control of his vessel... And rd should have heeded to that authority as well as everyone else. As much as it was rd's fault for getting on that boat to begin with, it was the captains fault for not having control of the situation from beginning to end. Period.
But i suspect that is the difference between a professional crew and one that is thrown together. I think that is why we are seeing the differences in opinion between sal, rd, chef, smack, and many others. Quite frankly, the failure of that crew not getting along was not rd's fault, it was the captains, and one he should have had a grip on long before that boat set off for 2000 miles of open ocean.
I am not condoning what rd did or did not do, i am simply putting the blame where it should be - the man in charge. Because in the end, he still has and had ultimate responsibility for everyone's lives.
My opinions as a mmq.