SailNet Community banner

1 - 20 of 100 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,245 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
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?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
989 Posts
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......
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
690 Posts
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
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
404 Posts
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.
 

·
ASA and PSIA Instructor
Joined
·
4,095 Posts
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.
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
5,911 Posts
...

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.
 

·
Catalina 400 MKII
Joined
·
818 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,589 Posts
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.
 

·
Tartan 27' owner
Joined
·
5,242 Posts
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).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,245 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
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).
I'd always go into something like this with the assumption that the winning bidder would "call my bluff." ;)

Just got back from the meeting, and I was able to tactfully decline. I had some other very good donations to make instead, so they did not need any more from me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
847 Posts
----
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. ----
I once got involved in a rather unpleasant internet discussion about this very question. I finally realized that one person was arguing about what the law said, and I was arguing about what the law is.
I do not intend to get involved again beyond this post, but I do wonder:
mstern, do you have any case law to support your viewpoint?
Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
145 Posts
I'd always go into something like this with the assumption that the winning bidder would "call my bluff." ;)

Just got back from the meeting, and I was able to tactfully decline. I had some other very good donations to make instead, so they did not need any more from me.
I'm kinda surprised you looked for info here after seeing you live in Swathmore,My first barber job was there and there were more Drs and Lawyers than I could imagine,I would have thought one of your neighbors would be a lawyer that could have advised you
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,245 Posts
Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
I'm kinda surprised you looked for info here after seeing you live in Swathmore,My first barber job was there and there were more Drs and Lawyers than I could imagine,I would have thought one of your neighbors would be a lawyer that could have advised you
When your neighbors are asking you to make a questionable donation, you tend to seek out people who are not your neighbors for impartial advice. Even doctors and lawyers tend to be a lot less careful with others' liability than they are with their own.

Everyone says "it will be fine, what could go wrong?" Obviously they haven't been on a boat to see what can actually go wrong.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
145 Posts
When your neighbors are asking you to make a questionable donation, you tend to seek out people who are not your neighbors for impartial advice. Even doctors and lawyers tend to be a lot careful with others' liability than they are with their own.
That makes sense
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
134 Posts
People in our Club do this all the time and partly as a result, we have an excellent image in the community. We take out poor kids, minority kids, at risk kids, disabled folks, dying folks wanting to do one last sail, and much, much more.
And yes, where is the case law? Seriously, where is it?
If you think hard enough, you can always find a reason not to help make the world a better place. The "law" is just an excuse.
Just write them a big fat check.
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
19,489 Posts
I guess we live in a less litigious society.. we've done this annually for the past 10 years without incident or issue. The fundraiser is a silent auction, but a few 'big ticket' items are live bids... our trip is one of them that usually raises between $300-400 for my wife's preschool fundraiser.

We take them out for a sail in the bay, anchor for a late lunch and sail them home by dinner time. It's always been a very pleasant experience with lots of good feedback, and it's one of the most sought after items in the auction every year.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,264 Posts
I once got involved in a rather unpleasant internet discussion about this very question. I finally realized that one person was arguing about what the law said, and I was arguing about what the law is.
I do not intend to get involved again beyond this post, but I do wonder:
mstern, do you have any case law to support your viewpoint?
Thanks.
Yes, I have plenty of case law on point. Auctioning off time on your boat is treated as commercial operation by the USCG. even if you don't directly benefit from the money.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
847 Posts
Yes, I have plenty of case law on point. Auctioning off time on your boat is treated as commercial operation by the USCG. even if you don't directly benefit from the money.
Thank you Greg, but I'm not asking what the USCG thinks.
I am looking for judicial decisions where the court expressly states that donating a boat ride requires a licensed captain.
That's the court, not the USCG.
 
1 - 20 of 100 Posts
Top