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  #11  
Old 07-02-2013
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Re: Are You The Operator Underway?

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Originally Posted by Tempest View Post
A sailboat under power is a Power driven vessel, a sailboat under sail alone is not. So you can turn the wheel over to anyone you want, as long as you're sailing and not motoring.
That is an interesting distinction I hadn't thought of. I wish I had thought to ask the Transport Canada inspector about it. I suspect it doesn't apply in
Canada but might here where the power issue is more prominent in the various laws. For example, I pay excise tax in Maine based primarily on horsepower so less for my 32 foot boat than many pay for small outboards. I'm not complaining.

Quote:
The " operator" of a motor vessel is no different than an operator of a car.
I disagree on this one. On larger power vessels, whether Aux sail or not, the "operation" may well be a team effort with one person navigating and directing and the helmsman functioning essentially as a verbally directed autopilot. Navy ships are certainly operating like this all the time.

All of this could have been avoided by Canada and the states including one simple concept in the rules. Whoever has legal custody of the vessel by virtue of ownership, charter, or rental, is entirely responsible for whatever happens aboard. This would have been consistent with the tradition of the sea. It contributes to safety by there being one person who knows the buck stops with them and will therefore think more carefully about who should be allowed to steer and who should not.
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Old 07-02-2013
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Re: Are You The Operator Underway?

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Originally Posted by roger long View Post
........all of this could have been avoided by canada and the states including one simple concept in the rules. Whoever has legal custody of the vessel by virtue of ownership, charter, or rental, is entirely responsible for whatever happens aboard. This would have been consistent with the tradition of the sea. It contributes to safety by there being one person who knows the buck stops with them and will therefore think more carefully about who should be allowed to steer and who should not.
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  #13  
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Re: Are You The Operator Underway?

I completely understand your perspective of the buck stops here re: tradition. etc. I certainly assume that level of responsibility on my vessel, regardless of who's at the helm.

That " Person in Charge" works well for vessels that carry more than one passenger. I think the challenge came with the advent and proliferation of the PWC. where there's only one passenger/operator. One solution could have been to only require Jet ski operators to take a course and be licensed. I believe that some states have done just that.

The Navy model works well at sea where there's plenty of room and time to make course adjustments. And the fact that they require you to stay clear. On crowded inland waterways with a ton of go-fast boats; the closing rate of two power vessels meeting or passing in close quarters imposes a much shorter decision making period.

Another consideration that probably played in to the equation was alcohol use. If I recall correctly Alcohol was involved in some way in 1/3 of the approximately 650 boating related deaths in the US last year. Here, in NJ at least, your boat operators license is now linked in part to ones drivers license. The top 6 factors in all the fatalities were: Operator inattention, Operator inexperience, Improper lookout, Excessive speed, Rules violations and Alcohol use. All operator related.

Lastly I think there was a desire to inform the boating public that life jackets save lives.
71 % of boating fatalities were from drowning of those 85% were not wearing a life jacket.

In my state, it's a 7 hour course that can be done online and a 1 hour in-person exam.
The certificate issued has no expiration date. Most US states extend recipricol privileges, So take it once..and you're done. I think there are many government regulations that are more costly and intrusive in our lives. Asking a boater to take one safety course/exam in their boating life seems fairly reasonable and may benefit us all. We do it for cars, motorcycles, hunting, Scuba Diving, etc. Why not for boating?

I understand the loss of Tradition ( 3 generation Navy family). I just don't see that it's a major inconvenience.
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Last edited by Tempest; 07-02-2013 at 08:48 AM.
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Re: Are You The Operator Underway?

I think this "operator" crap dilutes the concept of responsibility and accountability.

If you are the "captain" of a vessel, be it 10 feet long, or 1,000 feet long, you are, and should be responsible for anything that happens onboard. You can delegate authority (placing someone at the helm) but not responsibility.

Letting owner/skippers off the hook because "I wasn't driving", is totally bogus.

This isn't about preserving tradition, this system WORKS and it has worked for eons. The system still works in confined waters, and with high speed vessels. Make no mistake, PWC's are "vessels" and should be treated as such. People in Florida, are riding them to the Bahamas from Miami, for Christ's sake.

I drove Uncle Sam's war-canoes for 20 years. I've helmed and navigated nuclear submarines, and 27-foot patrol gunboats equipped with 400 hp Volvo-Penta turbo-diesels that were very fast. Do you think the rules changed for me, just because my gunboat was small, fast, and I was zipping around a confined shipping port?

I strenuously object to this re-assignment of responsibility, and to lumping everyone together with the "lowest common denominator" of water-borne trash for these safety courses.

Instead of making the entire maritime community change to conform to conditions for speedboats and PWC's, they should be forced to join the rest of the maritime community.
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Re: Are You The Operator Underway?

BH, I understand the objection. Did you helm or navigate your vessels without any related training? With regard to the Captain being responsible, I don't think the new regs. relieve the captain/owner completely of any responsibility. If someone turns over the helm to an unlicensed or intoxicated operator, they will be held additionally responsible.

I suppose that I don't feel the angst that many do, because it really doesn't affect me. I can operate under my CG license, and I'm allowed to turn over the helm while under sail
to anyone of my choosing, and imo the buck still stops with me. It's only while under-power that I need to " consider" whether the helmsman is licensed. That a jet skier or power boater is now required to take some minimal training to be on the water with me seems like a good thing vs. no requirements of any kind which was the practice and still is in many places. But, like I said, I understand where people might take exception to the changes, and I'm not trying to change minds. In reality it doesn't affect what I do.
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Re: Are You The Operator Underway?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tempest View Post
I certainly assume that level of responsibility on my vessel, regardless of who's at the helm.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BubbleheadMd View Post
I think this "operator" crap dilutes the concept of responsibility and accountability.

If you are the "captain" of a vessel, be it 10 feet long, or 1,000 feet long, you are, and should be responsible for anything that happens onboard. You can delegate authority (placing someone at the helm) but not responsibility.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tempest View Post
I don't think the new regs. relieve the captain/owner completely of any responsibility. If someone turns over the helm to an unlicensed or intoxicated operator, they will be held additionally responsible.
Admirable sentiments and anyone willing to step up and take full responsibility deserves respect. However, it may not be up to you. In Canada, they aren't even going to ask or care whose boat it was, just whose fingers were on the wheel.

Certainly the captain/owner will have some responsibility and culpability if the helm is turned over to someone not up to the task. However, the fact that the person steering under your direction and command could be considered at all responsible is something that you must disclose to anyone before letting them steer. You could lie later and say you were steering but then we're talking possible perjury.

The way it as always been at sea, and the way it should be, is that an inappropriate action with the helm that results in damage or injury is an issue between the master and the person at the helm. For all other parties, including any other guests or crew who may be injured, the captain is totally responsible and at fault. Part of the responsibility of command is assessing the capability of crew members and how much direction they need. If you get it wrong, you are responsible, even if the person you turned the deck over to decides to make a 90 degree turn in a straight channel he's navigated many times before. Ask Captain Hazelwood of the Exxon Valdez. The mate's actions were incomprehensible but Hazelwood stepped up as if he had turned the wheel himself and paid the price.

You don't have that option under this emerging concept. If you told a guest to just steer for that island, directed them over a shoal, and their pockets are a lot deeper than yours, you can be sure they will be drawn into the lawsuit even though they had no more responsibility than an autopilot.

Given the widespread understanding of traditional responsibility at sea, it is irresponsible not to inform people you let take the wheel of this fact.
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Re: Are You The Operator Underway?

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Originally Posted by Tempest View Post
BH, Did you helm or navigate your vessels without any related training?
The question is irrelevent. Of course I was trained, however this did not absolve the captain of any responsibility if I made a mistake.

As the master of my vessel, I should be held responsible for its safe operation. If I hand over the tiller to my #1 crew during a race, to take a rest break and he collides with another vessel, I should be held responsible for damages and injuries to that vessel. I may be able to seek some justice through the courts against my #1, but ultimately it was my decision to put him on the helm.

"I wasn't driving" is a bogus excuse and should be reserved for ground-based transport, not the maritime environment. I'm sick of the term "recreational" getting separate rules and treatment.

I've no problem with educational classes and certifications for new people with no vessel ownership or operating experience, but I don't feel that everyone else should be lumped in with those people. I should be able to challenge the test, or present proof of experience to gain the certification.
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Re: Are You The Operator Underway?

There was a 4 year challenge period here, where you could simply take a test and pass without having to take a course. There's also an exemption for CG icense holders. Not sure what Maryland did. I agree that consideration should be or should have been given for experience. I think a number of states grandfathered everyone and began their process with " new boaters" or just applied the rules PWC operators. ( I think NY captures just PWC operators)
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Re: Are You The Operator Underway? (and bwi)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tempest View Post
Another consideration that probably played in to the equation was alcohol use. If I recall correctly Alcohol was involved in some way in 1/3 of the approximately 650 boating related deaths in the US last year. Here, in NJ at least, your boat operators license is now linked in part to ones drivers license. The top 6 factors in all the fatalities were: Operator inattention, Operator inexperience, Improper lookout, Excessive speed, Rules violations and Alcohol use. All operator related. .
Hey, IMHO the 'operator' concept is completely WRONG because of the alcohol use. Right now, I can be on my boat, drunk off my ass, and if I let an 18 year old kid 'operate' the boat by placing his hands on the wheel, everything is legal (NY doesn't require a boating license for people 18 and older). If the requirement was for the CAPTAIN to have the license / be sober, etc. all these issued would go away.

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Re: Are You The Operator Underway? (and bwi)

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Originally Posted by BarryL View Post
Hey, IMHO the 'operator' concept is completely WRONG because of the alcohol use. Right now, I can be on my boat, drunk off my ass, and if I let an 18 year old kid 'operate' the boat by placing his hands on the wheel, everything is legal (NY doesn't require a boating license for people 18 and older). If the requirement was for the CAPTAIN to have the license / be sober, etc. all these issued would go away.

Barry
That's a Point well taken! I'm not here to defend all the individual State laws. NY's is one of the more liberal, considering their 27 boating related deaths last year. One could argue that if California, Florida, Texas and NY held their captains more responsible we wouldn't be where we are today...... But I won't
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Last edited by Tempest; 07-02-2013 at 04:44 PM.
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