A couple of thoughts come to mind. You don’t need to be rescued until you have to step up from your ship to get into a liferaft
. Yes there are some exceptions to this but 99% of the time if the ship is floating you are in good shape. As to scuttling a ship many things come into play here; How far from land are you? (Is the distance too great for a tow? Will she ever wash ashore? Can she be tracked?) Are you in a high traffic area or will she drift into a high traffic area?) Do you have the resources to retrieve her? (A mid-ocean tow is big money) How deep is the water? (Will your scuttled ship become an underwater hazard?) What other options are there? (Can you set a drogue to reduce drift? Drop an anchor
so if she goes close to land she will anchor
herself? etc.) What do your rescuers think is the right thing to do? (USCG will have an opinion, so will other rescue agencies).
Insurance is not really a problem if the right things are assessed. A good case can be built for all thing but you have to do what is right. As was said earlier if you are in such danger as you must abandon ship than I believe the ship must be in peril and will flounder sometime soon. That being the situation accelerating the process for documentation reasons is not only understandable but the right thing to do. In all cases the ship should be secured so as to not add to the already polluted/dangerous waters (run the engine out of fuel
, burn all oil liquids if possible, puncture all plastic and lash it to the ship, neutralize all toxins, save all documentation). Finally open two seacocks, one below the waterline and one above. This is like a slow burning fuse as the one below will slowly lower the ship until the second one is below the waterline then she will rapidly sink.
If someone is to leave their vessel abandoned hoping to salvage her other things must be done as well to assure she is safe, sound, visible and not a danger to other ships. Secure everything as tight as possible, place one reflector on deck and the rest in the rigging
, spray-paint key information somewhere on deck or on the hull to assure you are contacted if she is found in advance of your salvage, close all seacock’s except those for bilge pumps
, shut everything down except bilge pumps
light, set sea anchor
, remove all sails from deck, unlock all compartments to make the salvage easier, hang ignition key on the seacock with instructions to the battery switch, etc.
Some of the best sailors in the world have had to make this very decision.