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That's kinda like saying "I don't care what the cops think, I want to know what the judge says." Coast Guard regulations are not "what the Coast Guard thinks", it is the law. The court will uphold it if necessary. When someone buys a ticket at an auction, that person becomes a paying customer. In order to take a paying customer out on your boat, you must have, at the least, an OUPV license. And the comment "even if you don't directly benefit.." Is somewhat incorrect, because a donation to a charity in addition to usually being a tax write off (a direct benefit), is essentially giving your income for that event to the charity, i.e., even tho you're giving your compensation away, you are still required to comply with the law as regards paying passengers. In the same vein, you can own and drive your own limousine, but if you want to charge for the vehicles services (or donate them to a charity), you'll need a chauffeur's license along with the appropriate insurance.
 

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The US national trend for all 'physical participation activities' (skiing, snowboarding, hockey, 'mountain sports', etc.) is the signing of waivers for the release of liability.
At most US ski areas nowadays you cant buy a lift ticket unless you sign your life away on a required and mandatory 'waiver' form; no signature, no skiing - period.
In such a litigiously focused society, such is probably prudent for just about 'all' human activity.

Here's a sample of such a waiver of liability form: https://www.rocketlawyer.com/form/release-of-liability.rl
choose your state, etc. and then hit: 'make a document' to see what is the typical verbiage of an actual waiver form (3 pages !!!!).
 

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Discussion Starter #23
The US national trend for all 'physical participation activities' (skiing, snowboarding, hockey, 'mountain sports', etc.) is the signing of waivers for the release of liability.
At most US ski areas nowadays you cant buy a lift ticket unless you sign your life away on a required and mandatory 'waiver' form; no signature, no skiing - period.
In such a litigiously focused society, such is probably prudent for just about 'all' human activity.

Here's a sample of such a waiver of liability form: https://www.rocketlawyer.com/form/release-of-liability.rl
choose your state, etc. and then hit: 'make a document' to see what is the typical verbiage of an actual waiver form (3 pages !!!!).
But if something bad happens, you will still get sued, and the attorney will try to pick apart the waiver (Did the victim have 48 hours to have his attorney review the contract? etc etc...) And if your insurance refuses to cover, claiming it's a commercial activity, you have to hire your own attorney and shoulder the liability yourself.
 
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That's exactly right.

Waivers are all the rage now, but they don't protect you from getting sued. Even if the waiver prevented damages from being awarded, you're still out a lot of money for legal defense.

It's called a "Pyhrric victory".

The only safe way to "make the world a better place" these days, is to write a check. Anything else opens you to a lawsuit or other abuse as illustrated by Donna's example.

I never cease to be shocked and disappointed by the horrid behavior of people that I thought I knew well, and for long periods of time, let alone the behavior of total strangers.

You were right to decline, Rick.
 

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I asked the Coast Guard sector (Annapolis) this question a year ago and was told that since the person paid for the "chance," it is a charter, plain and simple.

Licensed operator, commercial insurance, and inspection if required. There is an exception to the inspection requirement if the vessel is not used for charity more than 4x per year and an application is approved for the exception. Their experience has shown that charity charters contain significant risk, when a group of non-boaters crowd on a vessel with an inexperienced operator. I think we have all read of some of the tragedies.
 

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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.
Nope. No judicial decisions. Didn't even look. I looked online (CG website) and called the local Sector office. Got the same answer as pdqaltair. That was enough for me. My experience is that absent a very compelling reason and some clearly erroneous logic, courts defer to an agency's interpretation of their own regulations. In fact, case law demands that courts take that approach. I had no interest in fighting that battle.
 

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Some lawyers are great at keeping you from taking pretty much any action at all. We had one on our board who thought it was his ONLY responsibility was legal CYA. He paralyzed the organization.
Don't let them run your sailing program, or you'll never get off the dock.
That being said, be sure you have internal financial controls in place, and that your money people are bonded. Don't ask us how we learned that.
 

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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.
Mike, many years ago when I was a newspaper reporter for the Washington Post, I covered a similar case at the Customs House in Baltimore. The captain of the boat was found guilty on the basis that he essentially was conveying passengers for hire. In that case, the charity, in essence, hired the boat and its captain was pretty much a sub contractor, therefore, constituting the violation of having an unlicensed, uninsured captain conveying passengers. He was fined $10,000.

Gary :cool:
 

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I do recall you can teach sailing, and be paid for it, if the sailboat does not have auxiliary power. This from the ASA web site regarding when a license is required:

http://www.asa.com/pdf/USCG-questions.pdf

This is similar to my recollection of just about every club summer program in Flying Scots or whatever, as long as there's not an outboard (or other "mechanical power") involved.

So I'm wondering why it could not be done on a "pure" sailboat. Your passengers would be paying "indirectly" for their "passage", but how does that differ from your kid's summer camp where the instructors are college kids who get paid?

I teach (and do have a 100T license) and that's how I recall the distinction is made for teaching programs. Now there is a certain tonnage above which even engineless sailing vessels need a licensed captain, but it's well larger than what we are talking about here as I recall.

Please don't make me look it up.....



But, whichever way you slice it, you can't carry more than six paying passengers on any vessel unless it had a Coast Guard Certificate of Inspection. So the sailing schools don't do this, but their boats are small enough that six is plenty anyway.
 

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Well if it were me, and I really wanted to donate (would take more than a day to organize though) I would find someone with a six pack to donate there time, and call my insurance company and get a one day rider. I doubt it would cost more than a few bucks, but would only be possible if you have a real marine policy, doubt Progressive or other non-marine insurance companies would either know what you were asking for or know what to provide. Sure it will cost you a bit, but could be a fun way to donate some time to a good cause and give someone a taste of sailing. I would not get overly controlling over the people, but would give them a list of rules, like no drugs or alcohol.

But to do it without protecting yourself is asking for trouble. Heck I know some folks I enjoy hanging out with that I would not consider even inviting onto my boat, let alone strangers.
 

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I'm not a pro on the USCG, however, it only makes sense that money was paid in exchange for a service. I get the random drawing or bidding or whatever that is different from buying direct.

The FAA has a carve out for these charitable ops flown by private pilots. Albeit, the carve out is a bit of a PITA to comply with and nearly not worth it. You can fly people entirely for free, such as the young angels or for one of the patient transport organizations. But no money changes hands to anyone, not even the charity.
 

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In response to the sort or legalism that we see above, many states enacted "Good Samaratin" laws that offer very good protection to unpaid volunteers.
Hey Travlin - can you provide a link to the "Baltimore Customs House [?]" case? If not, I question it - mere hearsay.
 

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In response to the sort or legalism that we see above, many states enacted "Good Samaratin" laws that offer very good protection to unpaid volunteers.
Hey Travlin - can you provide a link to the "Baltimore Customs House [?]" case? If not, I question it - mere hearsay.
But a state "Good Samaritan" law will not trump USCG law. We gave the Coast Guard powers long ago the makes them above any kind of state laws. This is the real crux of the discussion, the USCG rules.
 

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In response to the sort or legalism that we see above, many states enacted "Good Samaratin" laws that offer very good protection to unpaid volunteers.
Hey Travlin - can you provide a link to the "Baltimore Customs House [?]" case? If not, I question it - mere hearsay.
I don't really give a damned if you believe it or not. It was more than 20 years ago - look it up yourself.

Gary
 

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I think good deeds generally do go unpunished, it just doesn't make the news ;-)

But that's a larger question than the one asked. The license requirement apparently does not apply to smaller sailboats without any mechanical propulsion. The sailing school websites all echo this, requiring their instructors to be licensed if on an auxiliary sailboat, but not on the smaller (generally under say 20') ones with no inboard or outboard power.

That said, I would make sure in advance that my insurance would cover it anyway. And if possible, I'd hire someone with a license (me!!! ha ha) just to be safe.
 

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Five, it is hard not to be paranoid these days.

I'd email the insurance company (or record a call) to ask them if you are covered in this situation. If they say yes...

#2, same thing with the USCG district HQ, not just a local station. Ask them if you need any license to do this. If they say you're OK...

Tell the charity yes, but you'll require a "hold harmless" agreement from them, stating that they will be fully responsible for any liabilities that arise including consequential damages, etc. That's some work but if it all checks out, something you can offer annually so the benefit is more than just a one-shot.

These days, there are too many professional "tar babies" out there, looking for ways to make life complicated.
 

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Why not find a local charter company that does this for a living and stroke them a check for your donation?
Now you're getting too practical, we were having fun debating what's legal ;-)

the outfit I teach for part-time has been willing, when asked (sometimes by me) about a worthy charitable cause, to donate a charter/lesson with a licensed captain (me) who donates his services. We are both happy to do it, and they get a deduction.
 

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....many states enacted "Good Samaratin" laws that offer very good protection to unpaid volunteers......
Not exactly. Most of these laws protect one from attempting to help in moment of crisis and causing unintended damages. Such as performing CPR, but breaking their ribs doing compressions.

Willfully offering services that required a license would never be covered. You'd be skewered.
 
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