Catalina 400 MKII
Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: Santa Cruz, California
Thanked 70 Times in 66 Posts
Rep Power: 6
Re: Suicide at Sea and captain charged
This is a really sad story. Thinking about it not just to Monday morning (literally) quarterback, but to try to prepare myself if I every find myself in an analogous situation. I can see three takeaways:
Finding that a crew aboard my boat is not fit, either physically or mentally, I might try to get that crew member back to shore, or to contact medical assistance ASAP. Reading the early signs of incapacitation can allow me to take action earlier.
Giving a crew member a prescription drug which is not his/hers could open myself up to liability, both legally, financially and ethically. I know that this is a common ocurrance offshore, and may be the best practice. However, because it is prescription, I better be darn sure that it's a last resort kind of thing. Documenting this - the progressive decision process - would be in my best interest. A situation that took days to develop could allow me to contact shoreside medical assistance for advice.
Any Man Overboard situation calls for certain standard procedures. Staying in the area for some time for a search is reasonable. Certainly weather or boat conditions might not allow this, but still, the effort should always be made. Even if you saw a person go down, you would still search, in case he/she came back "up" outside of your sight. That's why we search. A through search, documented in the ship's log, would be prudent.
In my opinion, sailing is an inherently dangerous activity. So is life. In the situation described, there seems to be a lot going on. My sympathies are with all the people involved. It will take a careful examination of the facts to ultimately decide which steps were done correctly, which steps could or should have been done differently, and what steps could be considered unlawful or negligent. The Coast Guard has put out excellent Accident Reports in the past, and it will be interesting to see a comprehensive report for this situation.