My wife and Iwent out sailing with a work aquaintance of my wife's (also our financial 'engineer') - just both couple's aboard on thier liveaboard 43 ft Voyage catamaran. On the way out one of the diesel's overheated so we went to a single engine; while troubleshooting that I noticed that the husband and wife team relied on Auto as a skipper more than I would have (we were on the South river near Annapolis, in August, not exactly void of traffic).
Anyway we go out, slowly sail across the bay and back. I've never been there before so I have the skipper point out the river mouth,from a mile or so out. He sets the course, slaps on the auto and goes back to socializing - we're sailing away at about 3-4 kts on a close reach. Cruise mode, no sail trim no skipper.
After a while he ducked into the cabin to muck about for something and while he was inside I stepped from the back of the cockpit to the helm and unobtrusively peeked under the jib. I noticed the red spider mark (huge triple piling) about 200 yards forward on a collision course. I yelled out to the owner what I saw and that I was changing course to Port(towards the center of the river) by 15degrees - he acknowledged that, and then I did so.
I picked up my drink, and proceded to the back of the cockpit. Meanwhile the wives were sitting on the port side conversing - the owners wife with a clear view forward.
The owner came out with hamburgers and proceded to the gas bar-b- que on the stern - never looking, oblivious.
We smacked into the piling on the starboard corner of the forward crossbeam - the owners wife and I went forward while the owner cranked the engine and backed us off - we and only noted a tar smudge (we were looking at the wrong place as it turns out - we looked at the port side, we hit on the starboard - four feet of leeway less and we would have cleared the bouy.
I felt terrible because I should have known that I was the only one paying attention (I had experience with similar Catamarans but up until this point had never sailed on this one). I commented I'd make it right (thinking it was compounding off some tar), while the owner was giving me at ration about not paying attention.
Turns out the forward crossbeam was dented and bent six inches deep, the fiberglass on the starboard bow had three of four tearing rips and had almost separated from the beam - but we didn't truly notice that until I went forward to look - AFTER tying up the boat to the pier, the owners wife had pratically stood on the ripped up section to tie up the boat and not noticed it. Getting to be a theme here isn't it....
oh, yeah, we continued sailing with that damage, oblivious to all...Wonder how much ripping and bending occured because of that 400 sq ft jib pulling away...
6 weeks or so later, I get an email with a bill for 7500 bucks - the total cost to repair. I'm nice, but not rich. I asked the owner what he thought my fair share was. He said 100% as I was sailing the boat. Two weeks of emails getting more and more contenious and he never once took any of the responsibility (or decreased his demand for 100% of the bill) and I finally told him bugger off, take a course on responsibility at sea and grow up.
Needless to say, I paid nothing - except now I NEVER, EVER take the helm of someone elses boat - so I paid nothing in cash, a lot in LIFE.
The bone headed part - I went sailing with him in the first place. Considering the fact that he lives on the boat, goes to the Bahama's 6 months of the year etc.. the boat was dirty, poorly maintained and inadequately skipped. I never once asked were the PFD's were or other safety gear. He was a a**hole, I was a bone head because I exposed myself and my wife to his level of safety at sea.
JG - hope you subscribe, I'm talking about you