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-   -   Who would be at fault (http://www.sailnet.com/forums/seamanship-navigation/45011-who-would-fault.html)

theartfuldodger 07-15-2008 11:44 AM

Who would be at fault
 
Sunday 13th of July a Catamaran on the Grand Banks was hit by about a 50 plus fishing boat and all 8 on the catamaran were put into the water. The fishing boat rescued all in the water, where by later the Canadian Coast Guard returned all sailors to St John's Newfoundland. It was reported the person at the helm on the fishing boat put the boat on auto pilot and went to get a cup of tea, all the while in thick fog, haven't heard yet what was going on the Catamaran at that time yet. My thought is where does one lay blame if blame can be layed, should both boats not have been responsible of their safety, not to mention sounding the fog horn on a regular bases.

camaraderie 07-15-2008 11:46 AM

While both share some portion of the blame, I believe the catamaran has the legal duty to avoid a vessel actively fishing.

harryhoratio 07-15-2008 12:13 PM

My take on the rules especially in restricted visibility is that all vessels must be extra cautious and take all steps to avoid collision - period. Both are at fault however since the fishing boat was by admission not keeping a lookout it bears it's share of the responsibility which does not relieve the catamaran from taking whatever action needed to avoid collision. The essence of the rules are - don't collide no matter who has rights of way or any other consideration and if you do then you most likely will bear some responsibility.

nolatom 07-15-2008 12:17 PM

"Insufficient info" really to try to assign blame, which is your inquiry here. But look at the rules. In thick fog, all bets are off, except for the rules which apply in fog.

Forget about almost all of the "vessels in sight of one another" rules (meaning rules 11 thru 17, which tell you who is the "stand-on" or "give-way" vessel, and what each should do).

Legally, you're now in the realm of "Vessels in Restricted Visibility". That's Rule 19. Both vessels shall keep a safe speed considering the visibility (which could mean bare steerage or even zero speed in zero vis), watch that radar or AIS, sound and listen for foghorns, determine if there is a close situation coming up, and navigate with caution, etc (the rule sets it all out).

So no one is privileged nor burdened in the fog. Sail, fishing, anyone, have the same obligations--to be cautious, determine if a close-quarters situation may arise, and slow or stop until you both figure it out and get past it (radar, radio, and now AIS, and even whistles can help in sorting things out).

I'm not sure mariners in general realize this, though Rule 19 has been around since the stone age. They still think, "sail over power", or "trawling over sail", etc. Those rules no longer apply in fog.

Leaving wheelhouse on autopilot doesn't sound like the "navigate with extreme caution" which rule 19 requires when there's a vessel ahead of you in the fog. But what was the cat doing? Did either of both have radar? Anyone watching it? Signals being sounded by both? Any radio contact, or attempt?

My initial reaction is that the "cup of tea" mate may have a problem under rule 19, as well as the "lookout rule" ( Rule 5). But these questions are very fact-intensive, and can't be answered without more info. But don't rely on the "in sight" (meaning visual, not radar) rules to determine the obligations of vessels who can't see each other in the fog until they near-miss or hit each other.

Re-reading Rule 19 now and then is a good idea.

Plumper 07-15-2008 12:21 PM

Well put nolatom. I agree.

sailingdog 07-15-2008 12:38 PM

Cam—

If this had taken place in clear conditions, whether the boat a fishing trawler or a fishing day charter boat with fishing rods off of it would make a big difference. A trawler with equipment out would have right of way over a sailboat, but a day charter boat with fishing rods out would not.

In either case, both boats should have been keeping a watch, and both boats had a responsibility to take action to avoid a collision. I think that putting a boat on autopilot in heavy fog and then going up to get a cup of tea is a bit irresponsible.

sailaway21 07-15-2008 02:09 PM

Nolatom makes a good and correct point often not realised by mariners. The requirements of Rule 19 supercede all others, by definition.

Plumper 07-15-2008 02:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sailingdog (Post 341663)
Camó

If this had taken place in clear conditions, whether the boat a fishing trawler or a fishing day charter boat with fishing rods off of it would make a big difference. A trawler with equipment out would have right of way over a sailboat, but a day charter boat with fishing rods out would not.

In either case, both boats should have been keeping a watch, and both boats had a responsibility to take action to avoid a collision. I think that putting a boat on autopilot in heavy fog and then going up to get a cup of tea is a bit irresponsible.

Just a bit?

camaraderie 07-15-2008 02:53 PM

Nolatom...thanks for the detailed explanation...I stand corrected!

NOLAsailing 07-15-2008 05:14 PM

Great answer Tom.


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