Chartering and mechanical failures -- next steps - SailNet Community

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Old 01-28-2013
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Chartering and mechanical failures -- next steps

Three of us chartered a boat for a day (from the same organization that we taking classes at). The windward shroud's anchor ubolt failed, the mast broke in half, had to cut the mainsail to get the mast secured, for the tow. We were not over powered (gunnels nowhere near the water on a close reach), going to broad reach.

So should we seek legal advice? Trust in our relationship with the school? Get 3rd party surveyor for the damage?

Any other suggestions.
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Old 01-28-2013
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Chartering and mechanical failures -- next steps

What did your charter agreement say with regard to your liability? I assume the company is demanding payment? If so, then I suspect that a lawyer will say you are bound by the signed rental agreement terms unless you can prove a prior flaw in the boat.
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Old 01-28-2013
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Re: Chartering and mechanical failures -- next steps

Bummer that the boat broke -- not exactly a fun day on the water.

As to the rest of your post, it might help if you'd explain why you are considering seeking legal advice or hiring a surveyor.
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Old 01-28-2013
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Re: Chartering and mechanical failures -- next steps

Not so sure if you are bound by signed rental agreements. They must be lawful in order to be valid. And it is very, very common for companies to have you sign unlawfull agreements hoping you will not know and just pay up.

Usually the law is pretty much reasonable i think, with a bit of a bias towards the customers advantage. Id guess its just a matter of proving that the conditions were ok to use an unreefed sail ? What was the wind strength on that day ? That is at least a given fact that doesnt need to be disputed.

Last edited by Arjen; 01-28-2013 at 09:30 PM.
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Old 01-28-2013
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Re: Chartering and mechanical failures -- next steps

They are not pressing the issue yet, they probably don't even have a claim adjuster look at the boat yet, and I'm not looking to lawyer out of responsibility. Just want to be on a crest not a trough.

The membership agreement had this "Club vessels are insured against property damage risks, except for the insurance deductible", and "Member is financially responsible for paying the insurance deductible upon demand by Club". Remember them saying deductible was 1% of the basis (cost or value not sure which), but it should be on the rental agreement.

I didn't sign the rental agreement, just a charter share agreement, but I guess that answers what my next step should be -- get a copy of the charter agreement.
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Old 01-29-2013
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Re: Chartering and mechanical failures -- next steps

Unless you were being wreckless, and it does not sound like it, you should not pay anything. The charter company should appologize to you for the inconvenience and perhaps offer you another charter at no cost. I think there is no need to prepare for a fight where there isn't one.
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Old 01-29-2013
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Re: Chartering and mechanical failures -- next steps

Yep- I agree with SteveInMD; they owe you an apology, but you haven't really mentioned if they are asking you to pay for damages. Are they? If things happened exactly as you mentioned above, it looks like just a case of poorly maintained rigging. They may come at you with "did you do a pre-sail inspection?", not that you'd really be able to tell if a bolt was ready to crack, but sometimes they can look rather obvious... just all depends. In those kinds of conditions (in moderate air it sounds like?) the tension on the shrouds should have been unloading a bit going from close to broad reach, suggesting there was some old hardware in need of replacing if it broke that easily, which boils down to proper preventive maintenance.

Last edited by Irunbird; 01-29-2013 at 08:07 AM.
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Old 01-29-2013
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Re: Chartering and mechanical failures -- next steps

I'm thinking along the lines of Steve too.
They owe you an apology and a refund for the day.
Liability goes to fault - that deductible is applicable if you ram somebody or otherwise cause damage based on your actions, not equipment failure.
Any damage you caused by cutting away rigging/sails to maintain or achieve a safe environment is subsequent to the equipment failure.

Pay nothing, and do not own up to any liability (or even say you are sorry). Wait them out.
If they do come back at you for compensation be sure to tell us SN folks who they are, keep it factual and no one can object.
The best consumer is an informed one.
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Old 01-29-2013
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Re: Chartering and mechanical failures -- next steps

Quote:
Originally Posted by andifreed View Post
Three of us chartered a boat for a day (from the same organization that we taking classes at). The windward shroud's anchor ubolt failed, the mast broke in half, had to cut the mainsail to get the mast secured, for the tow. We were not over powered (gunnels nowhere near the water on a close reach), going to broad reach.

So should we seek legal advice? Trust in our relationship with the school? Get 3rd party surveyor for the damage?

Any other suggestions.
From your description, I am assuming that a/the fitting that held a cap-shroud in place failed causing the mast to buckle and collapse to leeward. That is unfortunate but shoot does happen. While a charterer might be liable for certain types of damage arising from misuse or negligence, catastrophic failure of a structural element would not fall under such heading. In any rental/charter agreement there is an implicit if not explicit warranty of usability--i.e. that the equipment being rented is suitable and capable of being used in the manner for which it is intended. Evidently, in your case, the equipment was not capable of being used in its intended manner. Fortunately, both for you and the rental company, you did not indicate anyone was injured in the mishap. Never-the-less, if I were counsel for the rental company, I would be more worried about the rental/charter party going after the company than the company going after the rental/charter party although your charter agreement may have included an indemnification or "hold harmless" clause that will shield them from any action on your part. You might want to talk to an attorney but you'll need one versed in Admiralty Law and personal injury/liability actions to be certain the advice is worth the cost. Having one write a letter putting the company on notice and requesting their insurance information however, could be worthwhile if the company officials have given you any indication that they are contemplating anything other than refunding your charter fee and, perhaps, offering you a "free" charter on another, functional, boat as compensation for your inconvenience and saving their rig.

FWIW...

PS: The foregoing not withstanding, note that free legal advice given on the internet is often worth what one pays for it.
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Last edited by svHyLyte; 01-29-2013 at 03:34 PM. Reason: Correct typo
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Old 01-29-2013
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Re: Chartering and mechanical failures -- next steps

Thank you all for the piece of mind. I should have mentioned that no one was hurt. And the charter broker actually beat vessel assist to the scene, with the equipment needed to get the mast secured enough for the tow.
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