I don't know very well the American reality in what regards recreational boating. I have started a thread about that (in America and in the world) but it seems there is not much data about that. It seems however that in Europe the number of sailboats is much superior and is increasing every year, as the potential number of guys that dream to retire in a sailboat.
Rescue services are an expensive service and they were devised as a mean to create a safety back up to professional boating that is an important part of any maritime state economy. Even if in many cases it is carried by volunteer service, when we talk of Ocean rescues the means involved make it a state funding affair.
If the huge increase of recreational boating translates in a huge increase on the number of ocean rescues (as it is the case), in these times of austerity, sooner or later someone is going to say: Hey! why are we all paying a lot for the safety and freedom of a few that want to risk their lives in some unnecessary and hazardous recreational activity?
An then, all of us, that know what we are doing, that are properly equipped and the controlled risks we take, will pay for all of those that go offshore in old or unsuitable boats and that don't have the knowledge to do so (if they had, they would not be offshore in an unsuitable boat anyway) and are responsible for 90% of all rescue missions, not to mention the increase in insurance premiums to sail offshore.
How do you want to solve this? Are you going to wait for the inevitable an do nothing about it?
1) excuse my ramblings below, consider it a brain dump rather than a well thought out argument.
2) I may or may not be back peddling on my original post.
If the skipper of RAWFISH was involved in any criminal or devious activity, like sinking intentionally then let the full force of the law fall on him like a ton of bricks.
In isolation, on the surface, it appears to me that this is a case of severe incompetence at best. I would detest the idea of my tax dollars used to pay for this rescue.
As to your point/question. I suspect quite strongly that what you predict may very well come true so perhaps you are right but I am not quite ready to concede the idea that the cost of rescue should be paid for by the tax payers not the individual for a couple of reasons
1) We already pay for any rescue costs thru taxes. I pay for a lot of services thru taxes that I will never use. i.e welfare checks, subsidies to the arts, unemployment cheques to the seasonal workers etc.
Let me lay out a scenario for you. Hockey is a big deal here, all levels of government fund, thru tax dollars, the building of hockey rinks, my home town included. I don't play hockey and can count the # of times I have been in a indoor rink in my life on one hand. Why am I paying for a "service" I don't use? Hockey is inherently a dangerous sport, a guy gets checked into the boards and ends up with serious injuries. Why is my health tax dollars used to pay for the costs of his health care? He knew the risks before he stepped onto the ice did he not?
I see no difference in the above scenario when compared to the cost of rescue for sailors, back country skiers etc. We all pay for rescue services thru tax dollars and should not have to consider the cost to ourselves if we call in for a rescue.
2) Canada is a big country, a good chunk of the land is crown land, the people own it. We should all be encouraged to use it,explore it. yes there will be rescues and they will be expensive but the country will better off if more people understood just how special the outdoors(sailing included) is. This will not happen if we send everyone a bill when they get into trouble. Why go outside and risk financial disaster when I can stay inside and play video games? We need a serious attitude adjustment in how we think and treat our environment, this will not happen if people are not our there living in it.
Did I say I was going to ramble?
3) what you are suggesting leads to, as you put it, higher insurance rates. I don't want the government mandating to me that I need insurance at any rate every time I put myself at any level of risk. The government having a say in what is a "suitable" boat to go off shore with will lead to some bureaucrat, who doesn't have a clue, telling me what is a suitable boat, and what isn't. Maybe it is different in your part of the world, but experience has taught me that that government intrusion rarely leads to a better out come but always leads to higher taxes and less personal choice.