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Old 04-10-2013, 07:03 PM   #21
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There are statements of law posited in the final 2/3rds of that case that do pertain. It recites the duties of each party and the concise statement of what constitutes negligence. It also states that be it a private party or the USCG, what those standards are. Thus by analogy, there is good law in that case provided by PH. It is not necessary that it be "directly on point".
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:04 PM   #22
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I have lived all over this fine country, and my opinion might be different if I was boating on the other coast. Sad, but true. Here in the PNW, I truly would not think twice.
Unfortunately, every case I am aware of in which assistance was rendered and then the assisted individual(s) later turned around and sued their assistor for damages, health issues, and all sorts of other things, happened in .......... Washington State. This region is no less lawyer-lawsuit happy than any other so far as I've observed.

For this reason primarily we will not render physical aid to anyone for any reason other than pulling them out of the water, which our boat is equipped to do. And even then we woud be very hesitant to do so unless they were in very serious circumstances because they could be injured in the process of coming aboard our boat.

We'd give them something to get in or hang onto until official help arrived, but we would be very reluctant to deploy our lifting equipment because of the danger of their being injured in it or against the side of the hull.

It's a sad state of affairs to have to take this sort of a stance but we've brought it on ourselves in this country to the point where the risk of being subjected to personal damages and financial ruin are greater decision factors in these situations than the desire to help people out.
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:06 PM   #23
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My experiences have been quite the opposite. But always recall, anyone can file suit in this fine country for the cost of the filing fee. It does not mean that the matter was meritorious or that damages were recovered.
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:14 PM   #24
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One other point in maritime law...usually pertaining to salvage but important in all cases...

Was the weather...had it been a sunny day and a routine tow...many things that are "ordinary" are completely different under survival situations. Having been deposed plenty of times in maritime rescue and law enforcement cases....I often see the clear difference.

This case could have easily gone another way based on expert witness testimony....

quote...
The Plaintiff's expert witness, Captain Bourke, also has had extensive sea experience, including two years' service in the Coast Guard, in the early 1950's. His experience is not so much in search and rescue as in the operation of large commercial vessels. ..end quote

I know of a lot of "expert witnesses" WITH more experience than just a USCG boat crew that may have shed a lot more light on the situation.

I haven't had time to really read and ponder....but I really wouldn't use that specific case law for a Sunday afternoon tow suit....maybe it would work...but I just don't see it if ANY reasonable expert witness testified to "other options" the USCG could have employed.
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:19 PM   #25
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not really...in the assistance towing industry we see it all the time...the only action required is to save people from drowning.

Good Samaritan only protects to the level of training/experience...hence many doctors no longer stop for roadside accidents....too much can go wrong...too easy to sue...and even if you are protected...who needs the hassle. My suggestions help weed out 90 percent of those that could burn you.

Don't get me wrong...plenty of times and reasons to stop and help as I pointed out above. You have obviously never dealt with such total knuckleheads that no matter how often and what you tell them...they still ignore you and get hurt or damage their boat.
I have dealt with folks in distress plenty of times- I've never dealt with "knuckleheads" as I don't judge why they are in distress; just as I would prefer not to be judged if/when I am in an extremis situation. It's arrogant to hold such a lofty position when in the position of assistign a fellow boater.

Read the law-Good Sam is a blanket protection, not a specific one. By its very wording, it (Good Sam) sets a very high bar against the filer of the lawsuit.

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If you think this case has ANYTHING to bear upon a good Samaritan tow in benign conditions...well....good luck...

KORPI v. U.S.*-*February 26, 1997.

I did read it- did you? Did you understand the Findings and Conclusions?

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For those that would have contemplated it...

They were going to an anchorage...a side tow would have been overkill and chancing damage.

For a 32 foot sailboat...a bridle isn't even remotely necessary for any trawler of similar or larger size, especially if the sailboat can steer behind you.

Sailboats tow with a breath of wind/or power....so it is really no big deal if you or the other person knows what they are doing...in fact a 5 gallon bucket rigged as a drogue with extra strong attachment points is often necessary to slow the sailboat down from over-running you when you slow.

The beauty of this op was just dropping the tow in a generic location within an anchorage...side towing or bringing that boat into a marina unless you have lot's of experience, the sailor has lot's of experience or the marina has a dock WAYYYYY out in the open is a recipe for disaster as I see it all the time.
Spoken like a true armchair quarterback. Hindsight is crystal clear, yes?
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Old 04-10-2013, 07:21 PM   #26
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But always recall, anyone can file suit in this fine country for the cost of the filing fee. It does not mean that the matter was meritorious or that damages were recovered.
You are absolutely correct. Lots of variables and the outcome of every legal action like this tends to be a crap shoot until it's settled, dismissed, or goes to trial.

But the stakes have simply become too high to gamble with to our way of thinking so we decided many years ago to eliminate the gamble and the risk altogether and leave rescuing and towing and and the rest of it to the people who get paid to do it, either by the government or as private businesses with the requisite liability insurance.

We will render communications assistance and flotation assistance (dinghy or other flotation devices, etc) but that's it. Unless the situation is actually life threatening to an individual we will not take anyone on board our boat and we will not tow another boat.

Of course every situation is different and there are many, many variables. So it's impossible to say one would "never do" such and such since it's impossible to predict the future. But our "policy" as stated above is the baseline from which we will make any decisions about rendering assistance in the unlikely event that we find ourselves in that position.
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Old 04-10-2013, 08:46 PM   #27
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Once upon a time I was NB on the Alligator River/Pungo canal in my Sweden Yachts sailboat when I came upon a disabled twin engine Grand Banks 36. I stopped beside him and he said I can’t spend the night here since so many commercial tugs come thru here at night.

For those of you on the Lakes and PNW this is a straight man made canal in NC, with one turn in the middle. It is 22 miles long. It is crossed by 2 fixed bridges that serve the outer banks, 30 miles away. There is no development along the canal - no houses, no docks. The banks are eroding and lined with fallen trees. It’s a lonely place.

So I rigged up a stern bridle, passed him a tow line and towed him 11 miles to a safe anchorage.

I continued on my way to Alligator Marina just short of Ablemarle Sound.

No cell phones then, and little vhf coverage.

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Old 04-10-2013, 08:51 PM   #28
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Once upon a time I was NB on the Alligator River/Pungo canal in my Sweden Yachts sailboat when I came upon a disabled twin engine Grand Banks 36. I stopped beside him and he said I canít spend the night here since so many commercial tugs come thru here at night.

For those of you on the Lakes and PNW this is a straight man made canal in NC, with one turn in the middle. It is 22 miles long.

So I rigged up a stern bridle, passed him a tow line and towed him 11 miles to a safe anchorage.

I continued on my way to Alligator Marina just short of Ablemarle Sound.

No cell phones then, and little vhf coverage.

Mike
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:11 PM   #29
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We have a no-tow policy. Our boat is not set up to do it and we have never had any experience doing it. We will stand by if conditions warrant it, we will relay assistance or emergency communications, but that's it. I've read or been told about too many "helped someone and then they sued us" instances to subject ourselves to that kind of risk.
Marin's thoughts are similar to mine. I and "crew" don't have the experience nor equipment necessary. The Coot isn't set up to tow a good-sized boat. If lives were in danger, I'd try to do "something" but not to the degree of endangering ourselves.
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:38 PM   #30
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I would have towed him. I've done it before and am comfortable doing it. I did have a guy I was helping bash my boat once by accident. I was disappointed that he didn't man up to fix the damage he caused, but hey... I'd do it again. Good Karma.
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Old 04-10-2013, 09:50 PM   #31
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I wouldn't leave the dock without towing insurance and I expect other boaters to be as responsible and have towing insurance. At $150 or so per year, it's one of the cheapest things you can buy for your boat.

It depends on the situation of course, but as a general rule, I would not attempt to tow another boat. It's not something I'm trained for and I don't carry the proper equipment.
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Old 04-11-2013, 12:29 AM   #32
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There are statements of law posited in the final 2/3rds of that case that do pertain. It recites the duties of each party and the concise statement of what constitutes negligence. It also states that be it a private party or the USCG, what those standards are. Thus by analogy, there is good law in that case provided by PH. It is not necessary that it be "directly on point".
Korpi sets out the law it applied, but does not refer to the "Good Samaritan" provisions of unidentified legislation other cite, which sound like an available defense. Why is that? I add that the concept of not "second guessing" those on the rescue boat makes a lot of sense, sometimes you just have to be there to understand.
Is the term "marine casualty" defined by the ? legislation containing it. The position of the vessel with a possibly defective but functioning engine seems outside the common meaning of the term. Notwithstanding the above,I would say the OP acted entirely correctly.
There are a variety of views on when/when not to get involved, but I think most, subject to not imperiling ourselves our crew and our vessel in some foolhardy attempt, would go to the aid of a vessel and crew in real peril when faced with the situation.
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Old 04-11-2013, 12:59 AM   #33
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I wouldn't leave the dock without towing insurance and I expect other boaters to be as responsible and have towing insurance. At $150 or so per year, it's one of the cheapest things you can buy for your boat.

It depends on the situation of course, but as a general rule, I would not attempt to tow another boat. It's not something I'm trained for and I don't carry the proper equipment.
Guess it depends where you boat.

I wouldn't leave the dock with towing insurance as there is no towing services nearby and I expect other boaters wouldn't have towing insurance. At $150 or so per year, it's one of most useless things you can buy for your boat.

It depends on the situation of course, but as a general rule, I would attempt to tow another boat. It's not something I'm trained for, but I do carry the proper equipment.
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Old 04-11-2013, 01:32 AM   #34
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I've towed several boats over the years. I'm comfortable towing other boats and have done it because we don't have a professional towing service anywhere around here.

In the situation the OP found himself in, I'd have done pretty much what he did or at least stood by as the sailboat motored to the marina. I certainly would not say anything negative about what the OP did. I think you listened to your conscience, did what you felt you should and were ready to step up and help. Good on ya!
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Old 04-11-2013, 02:06 AM   #35
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Guess it depends where you boat.

I wouldn't leave the dock with towing insurance as there is no towing services nearby and I expect other boaters wouldn't have towing insurance.
We don't have it although a certain amount is covered by our yacht policy. I don't know any other boaters personally who have towing insurance, either. We do have a spare engine on board which tends to alleviate the need for Vessel Assist.
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Old 04-11-2013, 02:14 AM   #36
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I'm amazed by this thread. Decline to assist or tow those in need, well here you would get sued for that. Here it is part of the code for waterways to always help and if you neglect to do so it is in deed a very bad thing.

Of course situations differ and conditions likewise but I would not even think to decline assistance if for example a tow is needed. Have done many tows in my life and propably will do many more..

I have never even heard or seen a case where the one in assistance would have sued the one who gave help. Not even in my days with the S.A.R vessels..
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Old 04-11-2013, 02:30 AM   #37
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I have never even heard or seen a case where the one in assistance would have sued the one who gave help. Not even in my days with the S.A.R vessels..

That's because you don't live in a country where the lawyers outnumber the ants. In the US, greed is king and any way to make a dollar is a Good Way. Don't forget, this is the country where a lady can spill-- herself-- a hot cup of coffee she just bought from McDonalds (I think it was) in her lap, sue for damages, and win.

If you knew that every time you rendered assistance to another boater (or driver or anyone) there was a better than fair chance that you would be sued for anything ranging from physical injury to "mental hardship" by the person you helped (more often than not encouraged by a lawyer who found out about the incident), would you still be inclined to give assistance without giving it a second thought?

A lot of these cases don't go anywhere but enough of them do, and enough of the "rescuees" win, that it has soured a large part of the population, including me, on rendering assistance to anyone.

So I simply won't do it anymore outside of calling the emergency services. I'm not going to end up living in a cardboard box under a freeway because some bozo we helped when his boat broke down or he fell in the water sicks a lawyer on us because "we broke his toe" while lifting him aboard our boat or were helping him rig a towline, or that he suffered "mental anguish" as a result of our actions.
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Old 04-11-2013, 02:39 AM   #38
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Thought professional mariners were only responsible for the safety of those distressed if without prospect of injury to themselves, not to salvage vessels. Otherwise, why just pick up the three sailors and let their sailboat drift away to oblivion?

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Old 04-11-2013, 02:42 AM   #39
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So true... Glad to be living at this end of the pond.

In S.A.R boats we used this paper that the skipper needed to sign (if we had the time) where he declared that he was aware that in the rescue his vessel may get damaged and he acknowledged the fact. None refused to sign it.

There is even a fee available from the officials to the one who did the rescue, so if you need to use/lose some ropes etc. you can get them reimbursed and a moderate rescue fee available for the crew, so no financial losses can occur. This of course applies when there are lives to be saved.

I am happy to boat here where if in distress, I can pretty much rely on the fact that any passer by is likely to help or stick with me as long as it takes for other help to arrive. Of course self help is the number one, always available...
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Old 04-11-2013, 03:10 AM   #40
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I am happy to boat here where if in distress, I can pretty much rely on the fact that any passer by is likely to help or stick with me as long as it takes for other help to arrive. Of course self help is the number one, always available...
If ya ever boat over here there are enough of us who will lend assistance that you would be all set. We don't all live in fear of the "what if" nor with a generally cynical outlook. Might as well not leave the house if that is a paramount concern. I do appreciate the OP going back to check the situation out. That was very conscientious.
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