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Old 08-25-2013
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Arrow Practical Maritime Law

I've done searches here but find nothing. I'm about to embark on a very long voyage with an 80 something captain. He has circumnavigated the world 3 times, been through the NW passage and sailed to Antarctica 3 times. But, I think it would be good, on my part, to know about some rights of the sea. I have often heard horror stories and about very strange laws when related to ships & the sea.

Is there any practical maritime law that I could read about things I should know? What if he dies at sea? Who takes control of the boat? Who's boat is it? What do I do with it? What if I took it into a foreign port without the Captain? Do you bury at sea?

What about all the salvage technicalities when getting towed I've heard about? Sounds like you could easily loose your boat if you don't know the laws.

Any idea's where to find this sort of info? Google search don't turn up anything either.

TIA
Robes
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Old 08-25-2013
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Re: Practical Maritime Law

At first I thought you were thinking about this too much, but then again, maybe not.

If the captain dies, you immediately radio for help and give your lat/long. Only in extreme cases should you dispose of the body. If he's dead the boat belongs to his heirs or if there is another name on the title, to that person. It isn't your boat. You try to get it into the nearest port or, if a CG has responded to your radio broadcast, do what they tell you to do.

If he doesn't die, salvage laws won't apply or are something he'll have to deal with not you.

Before you leave you might ask him for his emergency contact. That way you can give the name to YOUR emergency contact in the event something happens but it also means you have someone to contact to help with things should he die.
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Old 08-25-2013
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Re: Practical Maritime Law

If you are that concerned about him dying at sea........ Are you familiar with his medical history/current medical requirements so that you will be aware if he starts acting differently or how to best advise medical personnel to help him should you need to do so?

The previous poster covered the estate law, and know that the executor will handle the disposal of his assets.


Elizabeth
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Old 08-25-2013
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Re: Practical Maritime Law

We will be spending 3 months in the Antarctic, it is a risky voyage. I believe he is undoubtedly in better shape then far most his age. I have a medical background. There is probably no one who will respond to radio here, if anyone could receive it. This is why I ask. At this point not sure if there is another crew member or just the 2 of us (He is looking for another, not sure if he'll find one before we leave).
I know his boat was bought/paid for long ago. I don't think he has any immediate family alive. I've seen these type before & I believe they plan to die sailing.
Just trying to think of the what ifs before they happen. If something happens mid passage I think I would head for Cape Town, earlier, I'd go back to the Falklands. Lots of things could happen, lots won't happen, who's to say what happens, but I'm going-

Last edited by Robes; 08-25-2013 at 08:53 PM.
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Old 08-25-2013
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Re: Practical Maritime Law

First I would make sure there was an "official" log book aboard and that it is faithfully kept; it is the most correct, legal and truthful account of the voyage. There can be no erasures or pages torn out, period. Any alterations must be done by lining out an incorrect entry and writing the correct entry near by.
Should the captain die, (let's hope not, but you did ask) it should be logged and since we all have phone/cameras now, I'd take pictures making sure to show any injuries or lack there of. It is wholly impractical to keep a body aboard a vessel for more than a day or so, unless there is a refrigeration space large enough to put it in, so it should be disposed of as soon as possible if a port cannot be made in that time, again, taking pictures.
Before you leave the dock, be sure there is a definite chain of command; captain, mate, crew, etc and that should be your guide as to who should take command in the event the captain becomes incapacitated for ANY reason.
The coast guard will do nothing for you if the person is dead (given you are even within range of their help); calling them is only of value in substantiating the logged statement of the events. However (again, only if you are within range) if you can convince them the person might be saved by evacuation, they will come to your aid.
Arriving in a foreign country with a body aboard or reporting a death aboard during a voyage is a very dicey thing. A great deal will depend on luck and your ability to communicate (easier if everybody speaks the same language). If your story is not believed and you have no consulate there, you could be jailed for a very long time, so I would choose your destination very, very carefully.
As mentioned, the boat goes to his heirs; the most you might get is the delivery back to them; there is no salvage in the case of the captain dying aboard and if the vessel remains under command.
Admiralty towing/salvage laws are way too complex to go into on this forum. IMO, if it is of concern to you, you should make an appointment with an Admiralty attorney, requesting he put together a summary for your needs.
If you are at all unsure of your captain's ability to survive the voyage, the prudent thing for you to do would be to not make the trip. If you remain aboard, are you absolutely certain that you and your crew mates have the emotional and physical ability and sailing experience to deal with a tragedy and get the boat to a safe harbor?
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Last edited by capta; 08-27-2013 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 08-25-2013
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Re: Practical Maritime Law

I would have a heart to heart with him and find out what he is thinking.
His age is not really the big issue.
28 or 98 you both should have your affairs in order.

Who to contact in case of emergency and what to do with property.

Most of this would just be a normal float plan.
Where will you be when and when will you call in to whom and who do the notify if you don't report when.
SOP

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Old 08-25-2013
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Re: Practical Maritime Law

How about your competency as a mariner? All the "Marine Law" on earth is not going to do you a bit of good in the Antarctic. I'd be spending my time enquiring about the sea worthiness of this boat, the captain's experience and perhaps some "reviews" from previous crew members.
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Old 08-25-2013
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Re: Practical Maritime Law

I would purchase Farewells Rules of the Nautical Road.
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Old 08-25-2013
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Re: Practical Maritime Law

Is there sat phone coverage in the area in which you intend to sail?

Have the phone numbers of the CG and RCC centres available. Use the sat phone and they can put you through to a flight surgeon who can advise the best course of action. They can also contact AMVER for a rendezvous.

Been there, done that - 1040 miles north of HI.

To be honest, I would not take another crew member with health issues on a remote voyage.

For admiralty law I use Home - News Announcements Recent Cases, but it might prove helpful.
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3 months to the antarctic with this elderly person and your limited experience? Perhaps you could contact rockdawg here to handle the spinaker
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