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Go Back   SailNet Community > Skills and Seamanship > Seamanship & Navigation
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Seamanship & Navigation Forum devoted to seamanship and navigation topics, including paper and electronic charting tools.


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Old 01-21-2011
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Collision(In-Land Rules of the Road)

If a relatively new crew member of sailboat runs into a bridge and de-masts the vessel while the owner of the vessel is below...

Here is the account according to the crew member:

"(Name deleted) was greatly at fault for many reasons. He left me at the helm in a difficult channel while he went below to do computer work and made it clear he didn't want to be disturbed until we got to the (Name deleted) River. He forgot about the drawbridge. The channel had many shallow and shoaled sections and he insisted I focus on the depth and chart plotter to avoid running aground. I yelled for help at the last minute and he ignored me. Other things too, never mind..."

Who is responsible and to what degree?? Cite 'Rules of the Road' and Seamanship to reference too.
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Old 01-21-2011
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Where did this occur?

In Canada the operator of a recreational vessel is deemed to be the person at helm. (bad decision, in my opinion.)

In New Zealand a skipper must be designated.

In US, not sure. The inland rules reference makes me think US.
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Old 01-21-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aa3jy View Post
...

Here is the account according to the crew member:

" .... I yelled for help at the last minute and he ignored me. Other things too, never mind..."
Who is responsible for what? Liability for damages to the bridge will undoubtedly flow to the owner of the yacht. Liability for damages to the yacht will likely also be the owner's responsibility as, assuming the facts are as presented, the owner was grossly negligent to leave an unskilled, inexperienced helmsman at the wheel/tiller, and insurance is not likely to pay for, essentially, self inflicted injury.

On the other hand, unskilled, inexperienced or not, what kind of a moron allows a boat to crash into an obstical? Particularly one so obvious, eh? One would think that common self preservation instincts would have given the helmsman to steer away from the hazard much before the "last minute", even if that meant putting the boat aground.
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Old 01-21-2011
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collision is actually an allision

When a vessel strikes a fixed object with force the vessel is said to have allided or the incident is referred to as an allision rather than a collision. Collision is when neither vessel is fixed in place. I believe a submerged object impact may be a collision.

Skipper is responsible for her/his boat.
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Old 01-21-2011
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Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the captain of the boat. If the crew person he left at the helm was not capable of handling the boat given the situation, the captain made a bad decision. If the crewmember asked for assistance and was ignored, it was pretty stupid of the captain to not give the assistance requested.

I'd point out that in some situations, the current at a drawbridge might be such that an unskilled person would not know how to or be able to deal with it properly and avoid hitting the bridge. Many sailboats are relatively underpowered and can't deal with heavy current well.
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Old 01-21-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aa3jy View Post
Who is responsible and to what degree?? Cite 'Rules of the Road' and Seamanship to reference too.
NavRules dont govern accidents like this...here's the definition of collison:A collision is an isolated event in which two or more moving bodies (colliding bodies) exert relatively strong forces on each other for a relatively short time.
Nor do they assess responsibility for one party accidents. Plus I doubt any agency particularly cares about something like this, unless you damage the bridge..,
So probably the important document is the insurance policy, and you can pretty well bet the owner will pay the deductible, and is out the money unless he wants to try suing the crew under the same laws he would if the guy crashed the owner's car. legally, responsibility is a moot point, unless the owner is a lawyer with time to burn. If there were no insurance, this could get interesting.
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Old 01-21-2011
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With in U.S. 'Line of Demarcation' and not on the Mississippi River..
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Old 01-21-2011
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My guess is that a criminal action would be handled differently that a civil action. In a civil suit, everyone with any involvement can get sued.
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Old 01-21-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingfool View Post
NavRules dont govern accidents like this...here's the definition of collison:A collision is an isolated event in which two or more moving bodies (colliding bodies) exert relatively strong forces on each other for a relatively short time.
Nor do they assess responsibility for one party accidents. Plus I doubt any agency particularly cares about something like this, unless you damage the bridge..,
So probably the important document is the insurance policy, and you can pretty well bet the owner will pay the deductible, and is out the money unless he wants to try suing the crew under the same laws he would if the guy crashed the owner's car. legally, responsibility is a moot point, unless the owner is a lawyer with time to burn. If there were no insurance, this could get interesting.
More information from crew member:

"a marine law enforcement guy made a report and just now gave me a
ticket and summons to a far-off court in (jurisdiction deleted), where I must be present at some unknown date, to be charged with 'failure to observe
nautical law', a misdemeanor. He mentioned the court is right next to
the jail. How convenient..."
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Old 01-21-2011
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Is this in a small southern town with one sheriff, who is also the judge? Sounds like a revenue raiser similar to some of the speed traps you hear about down south.
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