Quick Advice: Donating a boat ride for charity - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 100 Old 01-04-2015 Thread Starter
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Quick Advice: Donating a boat ride for charity

I've been asked to donate a ride on my boat for 2-4 people for a fundraiser. This will be a silent auction where people bid on various goods and services, to raise money for a student trip to Europe. I need to decide whether to do this by 8 pm tonight, so I don't have time to consult a lawyer. But I thought I'd throw it up here for your ideas around whether I'm being too cautious.

I do not have a six-pack license. My insurance is a recreational policy, which excludes commercial use. People are telling me, "It's OK, you're doing it for charity. Just say you're not taking money from the people, you're providing a free service in exchange for a donation to the charity." But something tells me that the auction listing will say, "Buy a ride on a sailboat." My concern is "if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck..."

So my feeling is that I can't do this. If someone were hurt, I would be civilly liable and my insurance company would surely decline coverage. I could also be criminally liable as unlicensed boat for hire.

Compounding that, by auctioning this off, I have no control over who the passengers would be. They could be non-swimmers. They could do dumb stuff, like stand up while we're gybing.

That voice in my head tells me I can't do this. Am I being too cautious?

Rick S., Swarthmore, PA
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post #2 of 100 Old 01-04-2015
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Re: Quick Advice: Donating a boat ride for charity

I am no attorney, but I have been associated with some not for profits that have done This kind of thing and have always looked for a licensed operation with insurance......
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post #3 of 100 Old 01-04-2015
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Re: Quick Advice: Donating a boat ride for charity

I have been asked to do the same thing many times and have declined for the same reasons you have stated. The other side of the coin my friends on the other side of our finger do it every year. They own an insurance agency so they should know the risk.
Personally I want control over who gets on my boat.
Jim
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post #4 of 100 Old 01-04-2015
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Re: Quick Advice: Donating a boat ride for charity

I would talk to your insurance first. If you can't get an answer in time. It's probably best to let it pass.
If you are having the doubts you are having its best not to.
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post #5 of 100 Old 01-04-2015
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not legal...

From the perspective of the USCG, you would be operating as a commercial vessel even though you are not keeping the cash paid for your services. Not a good idea.

Certified...in several regards...
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post #6 of 100 Old 01-04-2015
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Re: Quick Advice: Donating a boat ride for charity

Quote:
Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
...

Compounding that, by auctioning this off, I have no control over who the passengers would be. They could be non-swimmers. They could do dumb stuff, like stand up while we're gybing.

That voice in my head tells me I can't do this. Am I being too cautious?
You aren't being too cautious in my opinion. An international company I used to work for held a silent auction each year that benefited Easter Seals. Three or four times we offered a week's stay at our beach condo. When we owned it we rented it out for two months in the summer anyway. The last time the person who won the auction, an employee, totally trashed the place. I was shocked as it was a colleague. Our cleaning service took photos just so they wouldn't be blamed. The company offered to pay the extra expense that it cost us but we just decided to never offer it again.

Subsequent years I found other ways to help: asking a local wine store to donate a huge basket of stuff, I got permission from the CG to donate a boating safety class for a couple.

You don't know the mindset of the people stepping onto your boat. Anything could happen. Who will cover you should they decide to sue you if they stand up while the boom is moving across the cockpit?

Just my opinion.

Donna


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post #7 of 100 Old 01-04-2015
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Re: Quick Advice: Donating a boat ride for charity

I know a fellow who did this: He donated a fancy lunch aboard his boat AT THE DOCK. If he felt that the people were OK, they became friends. As friends they then took off for a day sail. This was completely separate from the donation, and thus (he felt) that his normal insurance, and lack of commercial license, were sufficient. He did this for years.
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post #8 of 100 Old 01-04-2015
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Re: Quick Advice: Donating a boat ride for charity

I've always found that "No good deed goes unpunished" .
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Re: Quick Advice: Donating a boat ride for charity

I had the idea to donate a day sail on my boat for a fund raiser. I am a lawyer and decided to answer the question you are asking before actually making the donation.

The short answer: you need to be a licensed skipper to do this to be in compliance with maritime law. End of story. However, if you have an accident during the donated sail, the "unlicensed" sail will be the least of your worries. I think it highly unlikely that the CG would prosecute you. As a civil suit defendant, I would be more worried about how it would look to the court and jury determing the amount of damages that you were an unlicensed operator.
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post #10 of 100 Old 01-04-2015
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Re: Quick Advice: Donating a boat ride for charity

I'll also agree that a 6-pack license IS required to make something like this entirely legal.
That said, my boat partner volunteered our boat for a similar charity auction. I forget the price it sold for. Neither of us have the 6-pack license.
Long and short of it, the people who bought the "boat ride" never got their ride, either because they did not contact us or ... It just never happened.
I think they did not mind the $75 donation to a good cause and just never bothered to redeem their ride. If the cost/donation amount is low enough, many people are just too busy to try to take advantage (not to mention that any "boat ride" would require YOU to be free and have time for it).

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