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Any liability for Captain aboard as a guest?

Discussion in 'Yacht Captains' started by Captain Jim, Apr 26, 2010.

  1. Captain Jim

    Captain Jim New Member

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    Several times I have been aboard a yacht I once captained as a guest and was not being compensated in any way. I had no duties, purely a guest of the owner. Owner had a full-time captain aboard and operating the vessel. Having been a prior captain for this vessel and still actively licensed, is there any liability incurred upon me in the event of an incident while I am aboard as a guest only?

    The reason I ask is due to some marginal abilities of the captain at the helm during these trips.



    Thanks,

    Jim
  2. Capt J

    Capt J Senior Member

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    technically, I think if your license is higher then the operating Captain's you would be held liable in an incident under you should have stepped in and prevented the issue. But I am not sure. Maybe if the other Captain is the listed Captain then not.
  3. Captain Jim

    Captain Jim New Member

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    Both of us have the same license. I have been removed from the insurance policy (have confirmation of this in writing), and I assume the new captain has been added to the policy.

    I have no duties while aboard, do no watches, do no navigating, and have had an adult beverage of two during these cruises.

    I realize I must step to the plate if required but I am aboard as a guest, not captain or crew.

    This has been on my mind for some time and my fears are that if something were to happen, I would be dragged into the whole mess.
  4. paulgd

    paulgd New Member

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    Prehaps as a guest of the owner it might be more appropriate to mention these concerns to the owner himself. In a diplomatic way of course.
    Paul
  5. Henning

    Henning Senior Member

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    I remember reading some US case law on this a while back, and yeah, you can get called to the carpet if your license is either a higher tonnage or has an earlier issue date. One of the reasons I don't drink much on board even as a guest. All I read was administrative law issues through the USCG and NTSB that dealt with suspensions and other license actions. I don't know if they can get to you civilly (though that's always a crap shoot and will cost you your defense fees regardless) and seriously doubt they can get to you criminally. Obviously this all changes in every operational jurisdiction. Most events it's just the named master, but in high profile accidents, sometimes they cast a wide net. The question you always seem to need to be able to answer is "Did you act in a manner that a prudent mariner would have acted in that situation?" IOW, the cases didn't revolve around them actually preventing the accident by taking control, but rather about being aware of the circumstances and doing what they could to prevent and minimize injuries.
  6. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    I for one would love to see a cite to those cases.

    This whole issue smacks of a smoldering of the vanities or a Walter Mitty daydream. If you are onboard as a guest and the captain is not incapacitated he is in charge and responsible. If the captain is incapacitated and the mate is not, the mate is in charge, not some passenger.

    If a passenger thinks he knows more than the lawfully appointed captain and attempts to take control I do believe that might be considered piracy. In any case interfering with the operation by providing unsolicited and more than likely, less than fully informed opinion would be the act of a fool.

    As far as responsibility for the operation based on level of license held, that is bogus as well. I hold an unlimited license, if I am a passenger on a small ferry that is crewed by lower level license holders and they do something stupid it isn't my responsibility and it is not my right or duty to second guess those who have the legitimate and legal operating authority.
  7. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    I wish I was allowed to ask many Taxi drivers to take the back seat...:)
  8. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    That sounds more like a desire for revenge!

    And I am sure every taxi driver appreciates having a back seat driver and wishes he could blame his truck driver passenger for running a red light or some other screwup.
  9. Wanderer

    Wanderer New Member

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    I totally agree with Marmot. When you are on board a vessel as a guest that is all you are - a guest. There is only ever one Captain aboard a ship/yacht.
  10. AMG

    AMG YF Moderator

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    It is just a desire to arrive alive, in half the time and at half the cost instead of having a driver fiddling with his GPS gadget trying to understand how my address is spelled...
  11. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Now that I can understand ... driving between Lauderdale and Palm Beach you can hardly finish tapping an email into the Blackberry without some fool laying on the horn and breaking your chain of thought.
  12. Captain Jim

    Captain Jim New Member

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    I feel the same way but consider the fact that I once was captain of said vessel. This is a different circumstance from riding on a vessel as a passenger you never captained.
  13. saltysenior

    saltysenior Senior Member

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    what form or letter makes one the ''captain''....if it is not an inspected vessel and is not carrying passengers or freight for hire, and under 300 t.[i believe]what makes a person the ''captain''......unless the insurance co.demands someone to be named or a person is signed on the document as master , any body at the wheel could considered ''captain''
  14. Captain Jim

    Captain Jim New Member

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    The vessel's insurance company requires a captain of record. Must submit all license documents and a prior loss statement.

    With all due respect to any who may be on this board, lawyers don't care and you become open game for them in the event of an accident if they know you have credentials. It's the equivalent of having deep pockets when involved in a personal injury case and said lawyer makes you at fault to get into your assets....

    Legally, you may have no liability, but that does not stop lawsuits, or prosecution by appropriate agencies or CG.
  15. Marmot

    Marmot Senior Member

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    Got any citations to support that? Especially any ALJ certificate actions against a passenger resulting from an operator, licensed or otherwise being found responsible for an accident or incident?
  16. Captain Jim

    Captain Jim New Member

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    I don't have any citations to support this with respect to the marine business or the example I have cited above. I have, however, been named in several lawsuits in my businesses related to the construction industry. In all of these cases, I prevailed and in 2 of them I had my legal fees paid for by the plaintiff in each respective case because of the frivolous nature of their claim.

    It is because of my construction industry incidents that I am wary of the scenario outlined in my original post.
  17. saltysenior

    saltysenior Senior Member

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    so you are saying.....if i was a guest on board, lying in the guest stateroom w/ the owners daughter,when the boat collided with another,i,because i held the only c.g. ''ticket '' aboard, would be the one to be held responsible.????
  18. Captain Jim

    Captain Jim New Member

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    No, I'm not saying that. But my concern is that a lawyer for the boat (owner) that was hit might say that in a lawsuit that I might be named in.
  19. proskipper

    proskipper New Member

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    I often go out with MYs where I am employed to do deckwork, fenders, lines etc.
    Ok, I'm not the skipper, the owner is but cos I way "outrank" him when it comes to tickets I consider that I am the skipper.
    Bottom line.
    Are you being payed for being there?
    If so, top ticket takes the heat.
  20. K1W1

    K1W1 Senior Member

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    Hi,

    I think this is where the make or break point is in this case.

    We do not know if the OP is employed by the Owner in another role away from yachting or is purely invited onboard by the Owner for his knowledge/wit/charisma.

    Maybe the Owner feels safer with this guy onboard alongside the new Captain but hasn't bothered to tell anyone.

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