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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What do people think will happen with this insurance claim? There was a 44 ft Hunter sailboat recently lost on the St Louis portion of the Mississippi River, of the Great Loop.

The problem started back on Oct. 5, when Michael Weber, a retired businessman and former Marine, and his girlfriend missed the exit for the Chain of Rocks navigation channel about three miles above St. Louis and kept going down the river until they actually hit the rocks. The St. Louis Fire Department rescued both of them, but their boat, named White Widow, was stuck.

The guy was traveling from Michigan around the Great Loop, trying to get his boat down to Mobile Alabama and out to the Gulf. Just above St. Louis he missed the entry into the Army Corps of Engineers barge canal that would have taken him through lock number 26.

He ended up going down the wild main river channel, that is not maintained for river boat traffic. Either he didn't know where he was headed, or the current took him down faster than he could motor back up river. He ended up grounding his boat on one of the shoals in that area, caused by a small series of low rocky waterfalls called The Chain of Rocks.
The local water rescue crew of the St. Louis Fire Department managed to pull him and his girlfriend off the boat. He got a Boat Tow US crew to come but they did not have any boat powerful enough to motor upriver against the current, and dislodge him from the rocks. They considered a barge and a crane, but the current was too swift, and the water too shallow,
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to get it stabilized and get him off. Then a storm came along, water rose, and one morning his boat was no longer there, and has not yet been found.

This cut off to the East, through the barge canal, is covered extensively in all of the guides to traveling the Great Loop, and is shown on charts. His boat got grounded right about where a major caution symbol is on the charts.

Considering this was a major navigational error on the part of the skipper, will his insurance pay for the loss of his boat, or will he be just out of luck because he didn't follow navigational guides?
 

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Photo looks like about 10 knots of current. That would be difficult to motor against. Even anchoring - if it held- would be tricky if something like a tree came down the river at you. Sorry they missed the canal.
 

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Considering this was a major navigational error on the part of the skipper, will his insurance pay for the loss of his boat, or will he be just out of luck because he didn't follow navigational guides?
[/QU

Of course they will. If insurance excluded “mistakes” what good would it be?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Theres no mast on it... maybe they thought without the mast they could scoot down under the bridges?
That's typically what "Loopers" do to get a sailboat around the Great Loop. You can sail all over the Great Lakes but they have the mast taken down in Chicago before motoring under the bridges on the Illinois River and then the St. Louis area bridges. Then they step the map again in Mobile. Many mount the mast on a cradle on deck. This guy must have shipped his south. Now he has a mast for a Hunter 44, but not the boat.
 

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Your own words "... major navigational error on the part of the skipper..." , amounts to negligence, which is covered by insurance. Insurance policies usually have exclusions for "intentional acts", so the insurance claim would only be denied if there was evidence that he knew what he was doing. Intentional acts leading to insurance claims usually constitute insurance fraud, so the actor's insurance claim is not only denied, but he/she faces criminal felony charges with possible prison.
 

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This looks like a case of gross negligence or incompetence. One needs to study the charts and when navigating channels make certain you are following them and in safe water. Will they get another boat? Has he learned a lesson? He's not the sort of person you want running a boat because he is not only a danger to himself and his crew but other sailors.
 

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No way we can answer the question of whether the claim would be covered. Negligence and gross negligence are very different things and are defined terms. Consequential damage is also defined in many policies, which is a loss caused as the consequence of not properly maintaining something, for example. What the policies are trying to say is if you do nothing to avoid a known loss potential, you can not ask the insurance company to clean up your mess. There is a similar concept in most homeowners policies. You are required to mitigate a loss. If a tree falls through your roof, then it rains for two days, before you remove it, you are expected to have covered the roof, before more damage is caused. They aren't going to pay for the flood, if you did nothing to mitigate it.

Navigational errors would surprise me if they were a problem, unless the insurance company could establish an unlikely scenario where they were actively warned and decided to go for it anyway. Who knows the circumstances. Mistakes are made. People get tired.

In the end, different insurance companies have different approaches to claims. It shouldn't come as a surprise that those with razor thin prices on premiums, often try to protect their thin margins by scrutinizing claims. Those that got paid more, may be less concerned about paying out. A good marine insurance broker knows which is which. Saving 15% in 15 minutes is not how one should buy insurance. Best value is not always the lowest price. Drives me a little nuts, when people give their personal experience as an indication. It's just an anecdote. Each circumstance and each State is different.
 
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We usually lose a sailboat down the rapids every year or so here. It's a hazard of river sailing. Engine failure, fouled rig, navigation errors can all contribute. You are often crowded by commercial traffic.

Suck a bag or wrap a prop on the ocean? Heave to or drift and fix it. Suck a bag or wrap a prop in the wrong place on a big river? Things can go sideways quick.

I don't know if the boats insurance will cover that situation or not, but I would say it's at least possible. Go out in a snow storm in your car and slide off the road your insurance is probably going to cover it :)
 

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A couple of shots of a similar cut we have in our neck of the woods. Big river with rapids and a narrow canal that every one needs to squeeze over into.

This first shot the ship over taking me is squeezing me over onto the river bank, my prop wash was muddy. Being under 20 meters, I am obligated to not impede his navigation in a narrow channel. He is about 700 feet long.

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This next shot shows the overtaking guy had no choice but to squeeze me, because he is getting squeezed by another big ship exiting the canal. Now, I have no idea if the guy with the Hunter was distracted by commercial traffic or not, but it's a possibility so I am happy to give him the benefit of the doubt because I don't know how much he had on his plate when he missed the cut :)
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YIKES.... insane to try to navigate in such narrow channels with commercial traffic like this. Probably full of coal or some dirty fuel
 

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That is a sad story indeed. Who knows what really happened and why it happened, and whether it will be covered by insurance.

In the absence of details, its easy to throw stones, but living in this glass house I am not in a position to do so. After all, I had a similar thing happen to me roughly 15 years ago except that I did not lose the boat. I had been cruising in the southern part of the Bay for the first time and had planned to duck into the Great Wicomico River. I had just gotten a new handheld chart plotter. It was my first chart plotter and I was using it for the first time. I had originally planned to duck into Mill Creek at the mouth of the Great Wicomico River and laid out a route to do that on the chart plotter. But the weather had turned really ugly during the trip down and so I decided to duck into Reedville instead since it looked like Mill Creek would not be well protected from the driving wind and wave action.

Before entering the river I had looked at my paper chart to better understand what to expect and decided that Reedville looked pretty easy to get into, Before leaving Annapolis a week before, I had seen a notice to mariners that there were changes to a couple marks that year. They did not seem consequential (cans and nuns changed to day markers and one or two added or removed) I did not have the changes marked on my paper chart since I had not planned to go into Reedville and also did not have the NTM onboard to check them.

I entered the river in a mix of drizzle punctuated with short bursts of some serious driving rain. That made for a very dark night with crummy visibility. Shortly before the turn towards Reedville, I was hit by a bout of denser rain, and tossed the paper chart into the cabin to keep it protected, and so was now counting on the handheld zoomed out just enough to find the next mark while still seeing the depths around me. Slowly, I passed what I thought was the split in the river and I wend my way into what I thought was .Cockrell Creek into Reedsville.

Out in the Bay, I had memorized the generalities of the passage up Cockrell Creek with a hard turn to port, around a point, then a hard turn to starboard around a point, and then a turn to port before getting to the fat spot where I wanted to anchor., While the distances all seemed much longer than I expected, I wrote that off to going slowly against an adverse current. Sure enough there was a turn to port, then a turn to starboard and then a turn back to port. The marks matched the chart plotter and the depths on the depth sounder matched the depths on the chart plotter, so all seemed about right, But then the rain stopped and I could see a bridge across the river maybe a half mile up ahead,

"Holy smokes, a bridge? what bridge is that? I don't remember seeing a bridge."

So I stopped the boat and dove into the cabin to grab the chart. Sure enough, it became quickly evident that I had missed the turn into to Cockrell Creek and had gone up the Great Wicomico several miles further than I should have. Other than an extra hour motoring in the rain and a further delayed dinner, there was no harm and no foul. But there sure could have been.

As we all know- If its going to happen, it is going to happen out there.....

Jeff
 

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That is a sad story indeed. Who knows what really happened and why it happened, and whether it will be covered by insurance.

As we all know- If its going to happen, it is going to happen out there.....

Jeff
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were you alone?
 
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