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  #21  
Old 06-25-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RhythmDoctor View Post
What is it about CT's laws that makes it illegal for their land owners to take the helm???
The requirement to take the course and obtain the CT operator card applies to residents and real property owners. The legislative staff probably added the latter to cover summer residents.

I emailed someone to ask if "operating" meant steering and got kind of a vague answer that I was "on the right track" and that the law as written led to some rather strange results. I asked for confirmation of my interpretation and was referred to someone in media relations who never returned my emails.

I'm not surprised that it's hard to get straight answers. Boating law administrators are in a tough spot. It's their job to uphold the law as written and it puts them in an awkward position to ask them to go on record and confirm that, yes, aspects of the law are stupid.

I could be wrong about my interpretations but, in the absence of being able to get someone to say that a guest steering under supervision is not an "operator", I'll have to stick with "you're on the right track" until someone is willing to clarify on the record.

CT is just an example and, if I'm wrong about that particular point, it doesn't change my position that these unintended consequences and strange legal positions are proliferating.

Last edited by E32Strider; 06-25-2011 at 08:49 PM.
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  #22  
Old 06-25-2011
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FWIW, I think you're the one proliferating the strange legal positions.

I think it's simple. If you live in CT or boat there frequently there, take the test and get the card. If you live elsewhere, get their card. While I don't know the specifics of CT, I know that many states will recognize each others' cards, because most of them use the same NASBLA certification course.

EDIT: In retrospect, my comments here might have been a little harsh. I got home and looked at the CT website, and it does appear to be rather vague. However, the FAQ section seems to say that nonresidents can take the helm in many cases. Residents still need a card.

I guess my basic point is, if you are the type of person who would never think of driving 56 mph in a 55 mph zone, then you can worry all you want about the vaguaries of CT's law. However, if common sense tells you that you could safely take the helm of someone else's boat, or let them take the helm of your boat under your direct supervision (or, for instance, while you go down below to take a pee), then you should do it. There is no way that any law can be written to consider every possible nuance. The state wants boaters to have some minimum training to boat safely, and as long as you are complying with their basic intent, a minor technical infraction will not likely get you into any more trouble than doing 56 in a 55 zone.
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Last edited by TakeFive; 06-25-2011 at 10:51 PM.
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  #23  
Old 06-26-2011
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Extract from Irish Statuary Instrument regarding Col Regs

Responsibility.

(a) Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case.

(b) In construing and complying with these Rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these Rules necessary to avoid immediate danger.

Seems to cover everything. There appears to be no proscribed age limit or competency required.
Freedom to put to sea is still considered a basic entitlement here and in the UK.
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Last edited by centaursailor; 06-26-2011 at 05:46 AM.
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  #24  
Old 06-26-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RhythmDoctor View Post
a minor technical infraction will not likely get you into any more trouble than doing 56 in a 55 zone.
Ask the guy who lost his job and spent two years of his life and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees because he moved over to sit at the wheel of a motionless and becalmed sailboat while the owner and his guests were watching the stars. He wasn't even steering. He was just sitting in the seat where he could have steered if the wind had come up or they had stated the engine. Should a guest moving from leaning against the cabin to sitting behind the wheel suddenly become legally responsible for whether the lights are on?

This didn't happen because of boater education and "licensing" laws and I am not questioning the right and desirability of states to establish competency requirements for boaters. I am only taking issue with the way the writing and/or interpretation of some of these laws is changing the legal environment of vessel command.

As I have been discussing this here and elsewhere, I've begun to realize that confusion about the concept of steering vs. operating is pretty widespread among boaters as well as boating safety officials. When someone is steering my boat, I remain just as much in control of where the boat will go and how crossing situations are handled as if my hands were on the wheel. If we get into heavy enough traffic that the time delay or possible communication confusion increases collision hazard, I take he wheel.

I'm not Captain Bligh and, when circumstance make it safe, I'll let guests wander around as suits their fancy but I am always tracking and verifying what they are doing. Even if I sleep and they have the deck, they will have a course and it will only be in a situation where I have assessed traffic, visibility, and their reliability to determine that it is safe. Any error in that judgment is 100% my fault. If they hit a submerged shipping container that even I wouldn't have seen, it's still 100% may fault. If the helmsman disregards my instructions and decides they want to take a closer look at an island while I sleep and the boat runs aground, it's 100% my fault for not being clearer about what was expected of them and better assessing their reliability.

I'm beginning to realize that fewer people than I would like to think on our side of the situation are maintaining adequate control and management of their vessel when another person's hands are on the wheel. Most boat owners, I'm beginning to suspect, actually are turning over the "operation" of their boat as they would a car. Perhaps the law is just recognizing this reality.
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  #25  
Old 06-26-2011
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I think it might be helpful to make a few distinctions..( maybe not)

Here in the U.S. within the Col Regs line, the Inland rules still apply. States cannot make any rules that conflict. However, they can make additional laws and regulations that they deem necessary to protect the interests and safety of the general public and the environment.

For the most part, we're not talking about going out to sea. ( though, you may need to take a course in order to leave the dock ;-) ).

The vast number of boaters out there plying " local" waters are not plotting courses, computing set and drift calculations and danger bearings, they are basically " piloting" . Meaning, that they are steering or driving boats, within sight of land, in channels, bays, rivers, harbors etc. They often own vessels capable of doing over 30 knots. They're water skiing, tubing, jet skiing, fishing, racing, etc etc.

I don't want to divert this into a thread about alcohol abuse, but the fact of the matter is, that there's often a mentality that boating and drinking go hand in hand. ( 1/3 of all boating accidents involve alcohol). 75% of the accidents are human error. I would venture to guess that they're not navigational errors but..steering errors..operator inattention, lack of knowledge of the ROR..etc etc.

While these state laws may impact the experienced sailor who's top speed under power or sail is 5 or 6 knots and irks the Josua Slocum in all of us; If they have a positive impact on reducing accidents then they're worth the inconvenience imo. In my jurisdiction, the boating license is now tied to a drivers license. If you behave badly on the water, you could not only lose your boating license but your auto driving privileges and visa versa. I think that fact alone, gets most peoples attention!

While I agree with many of the points Striker makes; if Bob, is more experienced and a better boater than 98 % of the recreational boaters then it should be a simple exercise for him to obtain a USCG license which would probably allow him to operate in any states' waters including Connecticut, without having to obtain a State Boating Certificate.

With regard to " Responsibility" I think the California example is an anomaly used for effect. I believe the Vessel's owner or leesee, whatever the case, would in most juristictions be held responsible for the actions of the vessel and then if " crew" members were steering at the time of an incident they would certainly be questioned and may share liability.
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Last edited by Tempest; 06-26-2011 at 11:12 AM.
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  #26  
Old 06-26-2011
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Quote:
If (the laws) have a positive impact on reducing accidents then they're worth the inconvenience imo.
Certainly and I have never intended this to be a question or discussion about whether there should be such laws.

The central pillar of the maritime safety system since man first used a stick to propel a floating log has been the concept of every vessel having a master who is fully responsible for it's operation. Failing to include this concept in boater education and, if fact specifically rejecting it in legal interpretations and laws, can not be a good thing from the safety perspective.

Quote:
it should be a simple exercise for him to obtain a USCG license
Sure, if he knows months and years ahead of time that you're going to invite him to CT for the weekend. Once he is there, does a law that makes it illegal for you to use the resources that he represents but permits you to let a person spending their first day on a boat do the same task make any sense? Does that promote safety?

I'm not talking about whether there should or should not be boater regulation but whether it should make sense and promote safety. Officially rejecting the time tested linchpin of the maritime safety system doesn't do that.
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Old 06-26-2011
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Well, as Centaursailor pointed out, There's always " Rule number 2" or the "General Prudential Rule" That basically says " don't hit anything"

If Louise gets in trouble, then Bob needs to take the wheel!

The average recreational boater today..knows nothing of maritime history...
Though, I do know that it is taught, at least in my jurisdiction, that the
" Captain" is responsible for the safe operation of the vessel.

The average person out there, thinks that UPS and Fed-ex deliver all their goods. They have no idea that all those containers came off a ship that crossed an ocean and entered a port.

Kids today think that fish have always been raised on farms, Whales have always been extinct, Lobsters come from Red Lobster... etc etc...

Unless you live in a state like Maine et al, with a rich history of maritime tradition engrained in it's population, many of todays recreational boaters only care about how fast their boat can go and how much fuel it can carry.

I will concede that my views may be the unfortunate result if living in the most densely populated state in the U.S. with more than it's fair share of knuckleheads..present company excluded, of course.
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Last edited by Tempest; 06-26-2011 at 09:43 AM.
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  #28  
Old 06-26-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by E32Strider View Post
Ask the guy who lost his job and spent two years of his life and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees because he moved over to sit at the wheel of a motionless and becalmed sailboat while the owner and his guests were watching the stars...
I think that's a real stretch. People get wrongly convicted of murder also.

I don't know all the details of the story you're telling, but my intuition tells me that this guy must have turned down some pretty attractive plea bargains in a stubborn insistence of "clearing his name." If so, that was his choice, and probably not the fault of "the system."

I disagree with the premise that laws such as this, that are meant to do nothing more than enhance boater safety, would/should cause some people to put aside common sense and do things that are less safe in order to comply with the strictest interpretation of the law. If you're so afraid that you'll lose your job and pay thousands in legal fees for committing a slight infraction in the interest of improved safety, then maybe you're too risk-averse to be sailing in the first place.
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  #29  
Old 06-26-2011
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Quote:
If you're so afraid that you'll lose your job and pay thousands in legal fees for committing a slight infraction in the interest of improved safety, then maybe you're too risk-averse to be sailing in the first place.
Oh, I'm not and none of this will change how I sail and operate my boat. Safety always comes first. However, these are issues worth kicking around.

Discussing ways that you can run aground doesn't mean you are afraid of navigating; it's just part of risk management.

Instead of just complaining, I should probably off a solution. All this could be made to go away by simply inserting something like the following in state boating laws.

Quote:
The Operator of a vessel shall be considered the owner, charterer, renter, borrower, or other person on board with primary legal custody of the craft. All liability for damages resulting from the vessel's course or alterations in the vessel's course shall rest with the Operator.

No person may steer a craft at a speed exceeding 10 knots or a craft larger than 65 feet in length without meeting the requirements to be an Operator of that craft.
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