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Discussion Starter #1
So, I'm sitting here feeling like crap because I asked some friends to go sailing. When they called to accept they somewhat blindsided me by asking if they could bring along a minor child (teen) that they look after on occasion. The child has lost their father and the mother is not fit, so the child is being raised by the grandmother. The father was a friend of the fellow I invited, and he and his wife are trying to help expand the childs horizons and give them a chance to be more than they might be otherwise. I realize the good they are doing for this child and applaud their involvement.

Still after thinking the situation fully through, I felt it would not be a good idea to have this child as a guest on my boat and reversed my position. I don't know the childs family at all and have only once met the child. Our boat is about 4 hours driving from the childs home. Since no parent or legal guardian would be along, I would bear legal responsiblity for the child as soon as they stepped aboard. If the child was to get seriously hurt, there would be no one there that could approve medical treatment and there are any number of ways a child could get hurt on a sailboat. I just wasn't comfortable with that when I had time to think through the whole situation.

The worst part is, my friend had already told the child and they were very excited, so now the child will have another disappointment, which makes me feel terrible.

I know there are some that think I'm a toad for reversing myself and disappointing this child, but I hope there are some that understand my reasoning. Sorry, for the buzz kill, but I needed to vent a bit.
 

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Wow, Mid. Tough call. But it seems to me that you did the right thing. Maybe you could get one of the family members to sign a release and set up a new date?
 

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For crying out loud... Looks like your friend has assumed temporary custody of the child.... Just take take him/her/it sailing. If you're lucky, nobody will call the cops and have you arrested.
 

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I'm not sure what the issue is here, except that your friends trespassed on your hospitality, either out of ignorance of your legal obligations as skipper, or because they wanted to take advantage of your offer to kill some quality time...

Ask these friends of yours to produce some sort of document that they are guardians of the teen and that they are prepared to absolve you if this teen drowns.

I have no idea if this is only a big deal in litigation-happy America, but what happens to your friends if they are pulled over by the cops with this unrelated kid in the back? Aren't they in the same legal limbo as you?

Also, you don't say whether this is a daysail, a week-long trip, are your friends sailors, can the kid swim, are you sailing inland, coastal or passage. etc.

Many of those factors would influence my "coolness" with their proposal, which I still find a little rude, just as I would find 9 out of 10 teenaged strangers, even from untroubled backgrounds.

To my mind, the truly horrible situation would be to be offshore when some little psycho decides to hit the crack pipe or practise his pyromania skills. Because then you'd have to explain how he "fell" off your boat.
 

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I can empathize on a very difficult decision. You made the right choice. Not to say the alternative was a bad choice, but in a situation like this you have to go with your instinct.

I suspect I would have made the same choice you did. We have taken "kids" out on our boat from similar social situations, but always had a parent's permission and I have to say I was a little nervous at such times. It is unfortunate that the child and your friends had to be disappointed, but as skipper you will always be faced with making decisions that are not popular. God call.
 

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AEOLUS II
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The child has lost their father and the mother is not fit, so the child is being raised by the grandmother. The father was a friend of the fellow I invited, and he and his wife are trying to help expand the childs horizons and give them a chance to be more than they might be otherwise. I realize the good they are doing for this child and applaud their involvement.
So do I.

But I wouldn't let the kid on my boat either.

Legal parents or guardians only must be present.
 

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You are a coward. I am sure that the kid would have had fun, and you squashed the opportunity because you are afraid of some ghost of litigation.

Grow a pair!
 

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mid...
I think you did the right thing!!!
She's your boat to invite (or not) whomever you please!!!
Paul
 

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i used to go camping alot, i brought friends kids ( teenagers ) i used to get a letter from the parent i had had the kids legally. as well as i could make any legal or medical decisions until the parents were contacted.

would this make you feel better?

i also understand you view of them taking advantage of your hospitality.
 

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AEOLUS II
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You are a coward. I am sure that the kid would have had fun, and you squashed the opportunity because you are afraid of some ghost of litigation.

Grow a pair!
There is that, AND having someone taking advantage of the invite.

I prefer not to be taken advantage of AND I like our home!!
 

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Mid,

You did leave out an important point on the lenght of the sail. I think that for anything more than a day sail around the sound you made the right call. But for a day sail where you would have reasonable control of the variables and risks. ie time on the water, undersail, weather exposure etc you may have jumped the gun.

I also think that if it was anything more than a day sail your friends are out of line. Did they check on bunkspace, provisions?

And I pretty sure a waiver from a guardien does not absolve any responsibilies as a captain. If legal litigation is the biggest fear, any guest can get hurt and any guest could sue.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Yes, perhaps I am a coward.

I have some modest means and I chose to protect them over providing a perhaps life changing experience for a kid. I hate that this is the world we live in, but it is in fact the world we live in, and I have to think of my family first. We do live in a litigious society and I, sadly, just can't rationalize putting everything I've ever worked for at risk, even to help a deserving child.

Let me make the record clear on that count also, the child has no behavioral problems, their father passed at a very young age due to natural causes and the mother just isn't able to care for the child.

FWIW, the trip would have involved two nights on the boat.

edited to add: If we were just talking about a day sail, we wouldn't be having this conversation.
 

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If I said yes in the first place, I would not have broken my word to my friend and I have tried very hard all my life never to break my word or promise to a child.
 

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I have had enough daysails killed by taking out new people who got sea sick or scared or or

I would never introduce a new person to sailing by starting with a two day trip ?
 

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not Sully or Dandelion
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That changes things... I'd tell the kid and your friends to get lost because you're going sailing for two blessed days and nights... all by your freaking self!
I agree with hog.

If it was a day sail I would have said "grow a pair".

You did the right thing.
 

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99% landlubber, 1% sailor
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Relaaaaaax!!
I'd take the kid sailling. I'd ask the mom's permission first for sure.
As a parent i' be pretty pissed if someone was going to take my kid for 2 days on a sailboat without my knowledge. Of course I'm not everybody.
It's unfortunate that you had to let your friends & the kid down this time, but definitely be open to it in the future. Like you said, you accept responsibility for the kid as soon as he steps aboard, but the same is true for all your guests. If you're nervous, make him wear a pfd. If still nervous, make him wear a pfd and an epirb. If still nervous, chain him to the deck. If still nervous, sell your sailboat-- sailing is too dangerous for us humans.
:):) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)
 
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