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This mornings newspaper has an article from the Associated Press saying the U.S. forest Service billed a man in Wyoming for their costs in putting out a wildfire he is blamed for causing. While no criminal charges are filed, the USFS is looking to collect $6.3 million as a civil matter. I wonder if the USCG is listening?
John
 

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If the USCG did, I think a whole lot more pleasure boaters would prepare better for any coast wise or off shore voyage. Perhaps the "get out of jail (trouble) free card" days are on their way out.
 

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"Stupid" should have to pay, "Unfortunate" shouldn't.
 
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If the USCG did, I think a whole lot more pleasure boaters would prepare better for any coast wise or off shore voyage. Perhaps the "get out of jail (trouble) free card" days are on their way out.
I don't know, I tend to doubt it would change behavior much at all...

As inexperienced or unprepared as many may be, I find it hard to believe that many are actually setting off with the mindset of "Nah, no need to practice heaving-to, or carry an emergency/manual bilge pump... If the sh_t hits the fan, we'll just punch the EPIRB and have the Coasties come hoist us out of here, and kiss the boat buh-bye..."

I just don't think people are really is thinking that way...
 

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I don't know, I tend to doubt it would change behavior much at all...

As inexperienced or unprepared as many may be, I find it hard to believe that many are actually setting off with the mindset of "Nah, no need to practice heaving-to, or carry an emergency/manual bilge pump... If the sh_t hits the fan, we'll just punch the EPIRB and have the Coasties come hoist us out of here, and kiss the boat buh-bye..."
I just don't think people are really is thinking that way...
It seems pretty clear that a lot of people are counting on that "get out of trouble free card". There is a long list of folks abandoning seaworthy boats (not necessarily undamaged, but seaworthy) because they can, not because they have to. In the story of the Perfect Storm, the crew of the sailboat abandoned a perfectly good vessel, at the cost of a couple of their rescuers' lives.
If you are going sailing for pleasure, you should have to pay any expenses it costs, to get you to safety. It costs SOMEBODY a whole lot of money, doesn't it? Why should you be entitled to rescue for free, if you need rescue from any recreational activity?
 

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It seems pretty clear that a lot of people are counting on that "get out of trouble free card". There is a long list of folks abandoning seaworthy boats (not necessarily undamaged, but seaworthy) because they can, not because they have to.
Well, we'll just have to agree to disagree on that one... I simply don't believe many folks are heading offshore with the expectation that there's a likely possibility that they might wind up having to abandon their vessel...That's a big part of 'Not knowing what you don't know', of course, and I think most sailors who wind up abandoning a vessel 'casually' simply had no clue what they might encounter, and the notion they and their crew wouldn't be able to deal with it simply never entered their minds before setting sail...

In the story of the Perfect Storm, the crew of the sailboat abandoned a perfectly good vessel, at the cost of a couple of their rescuers' lives.
That's not what happened, actually...The skipper of SATORI was ordered to abandon by the CG, after the commandant in Boston declared a Manifestly Unsafe Voyage... And, the Air National Guard flight that went down had nothing to do with SATORI, they were on a different mission involving a Japanese solo sailor, IIRC...

If you are going sailing for pleasure, you should have to pay any expenses it costs, to get you to safety. It costs SOMEBODY a whole lot of money, doesn't it? Why should you be entitled to rescue for free, if you need rescue from any recreational activity?
So, should this guy have to pay? What say the Sailnet Jury? :)

It's not like this recent weather was not forecast, or WX information is difficult to obtain off the Florida Keys, after all :)

WSVN-TV - Man rescued from dangerous waters

 

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All of us pay for our rescue. Some just never cash in their coupon.
Sea Dawg is exactly right. The Coast Guard is paid for by our taxes. Those people go to work every day weather they rescue any one or not.

If my taxes are reduced by the full amount of the cost of the Coast Guard and then they start charging people for rescue That works for me. But Im pretty sure they would be out of business within a short period of time.

As it is, is anyone stupid enough to think that we would get a tax reduction in the amount that they charged someone for a rescue.
 

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The policy of not charging people for rescue is not limited to offshore sailing and is very different than setting a forest fire. If people in need of rescue are faced with the knowledge that they will be in debt well beyond their means for a rescue, then some will hold off making the call, possibly creating a more perilous situation for both themselves and the rescuers. Time is everything. This is a frequent debate in the backcountry skiing community and it has generally been settled that back charging for rescue is a bad policy for everyone.
 

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The requirement to pay would result in substantial legal battles after the event in order to asses the "true" culprit:
- was the weather forecaster to blame ?
- how about the equipment or sail manufacturer
- was it stupidity (what's the legal definition of that) or an unforseen circumstance
- was it stuipidity or negligence
- if it was unforseen, should it have been foreseen

I don't think we should open the door to making rescue a legal nightmare, as trying to collect costs would only increase the cost of rescue services and impose a burden on the rescuing authorities to document, prove and punish the folks they are rescuing. We don't want to turn this in to a source of revenue for the governemt.
I am happy to contribute the few pennies that are buried somewhere in our tax payments, and I would rather our CG operated in their true mission as rescuers than turn them in to money collectors.
 

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Originally Posted by JonEisberg

So, should this guy have to pay? What say the Sailnet Jury? :)
Absolutely! Why shouldn't he have to pay?
Wow, so you're willing to make such a judgment based nothing more than a very sketchy initial report in the mainstream media (yeah, we all know how accurate and complete those usually are, right?), totally lacking any pertinent details about the boat, the skipper, how the incident transpired, and so on?

As others have said, there's a number of good reasons why such a slippery slope is not an approach we want to take...

Except in the case of carbon-fiber Open 60 RTW racing yachts being sailed by suicidal Euros, that is.... :)
 

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...The Coast Guard is paid for by our taxes...
Exactly. Think of those taxes as the mandate to pay for the "Affordable Rescue Act." Those who don't pay taxes are rescued as well...analogous to being treated at the emergency room at your local hospital or using Medicaid. :)

I may be in the minority with my opinion our government should have no authority to take assets in civil forfeiture or civil suit. If we fined everyone who did a stupid thing that cost the government money none of us would have a dime.

OTOH perhaps we could do away with taxes altogether if we collected for stupid acts as well as fines for criminal acts?

Not a level playing field btw since many public agencies are immune from civil suit. If the CG orders you off your boat in a storm and your boat didn't sink but is later found washed up on the beach I don't think you could sue for your loss citing the dumbassery of the CG decision.
 

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Should you have to pay the fire department for putting out a fire at your house that you could have prevented with better maintenance. Should you have to pay the police for coming to your house to stop a burglar that better lighting and security would have stopped?

They are legitimate questions, the same as for Coast Guard rescues, and they really are all the same question.
 

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I am wholeheartedly against charging for rescues. I am wholeheartedly for licensing for boating (especially certain boats) and when you do something abysmally stupid, having that license revoked. Of course, no one agrees with me on the licensing thing, but I have many good reasons.

The reality is that we all pay a lot of taxes for a lot of things we don't use, have not used, and probably never will use. Given the relatively few rescues the USCG does compared to the many other things our government wastes money on, I doubt these rescues make much of a financial impact.

My opinions.

Brian
 

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The policy of not charging people for rescue is not limited to offshore sailing and is very different than setting a forest fire. If people in need of rescue are faced with the knowledge that they will be in debt well beyond their means for a rescue, then some will hold off making the call, possibly creating a more perilous situation for both themselves and the rescuers. Time is everything. This is a frequent debate in the backcountry skiing community and it has generally been settled that back charging for rescue is a bad policy for everyone.
If by "Back country skiing community" you are referring to the fools that ski out of marked bounds, then there should BE no debate - they should have to pay every nickle of costs and a substantial fine on top.

They are one of, if not THE most frequent cause of SAR missions around here.
 

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Sea Dawg is exactly right. The Coast Guard is paid for by our taxes. "Those people go to work every day weather they rescue any one or not. "
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Indeed, they do work every day. But SAR costs huge bucks, not at all the same as their general day to day duties.
 
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