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Should crew pay for damages?
Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 3:37 PM
I am sure that we all have made mistakes and we all understand that accidents happen, but at what point should crew pay for damages that they have caused to the yacht? 
Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 7:30 PM

 As an owner I find any punitive approach to dealing with accidents about as useful as legislating social behavior. It solves nothing and creates an atmosphere of apprehension, distrust and eventually animosity. My crew spends a measurable amount of time cleaning up after myself, my guests and our accidents. Why on earth should they be held to a higher standard for something that they did not intentionally do wrong. While many of the things about our boat cannot be replaced or are difficult and expensive to repair, we were well aware of this when we decided to place them on a boat that floats over a virtually bottomless body of water in the first place.

That said, there is a limit to the number and frequency of accidents that are going to be tolerated before a designation of  "habitual klutz" is going to be assigned. Even then the owner and captain still are confronted with the mitigating factors for or against the offending individual.

I have one girl who couldn't tie her shoes without screwing it up, therefore, shoe tying is not in her job description. She is too important for that because she is absolutely loved and adored by my guests from the youngest to the very oldest. On the other end of the spectrum I had a deck hand who was in the same alternate reality who not only broke everything he came in contact with, but hurt himself in the process. We had to let him go, not because of the damage but because he was a danger to himself and those around him.

All things are relative and when dealing with people, blanket policies are useless and counter productive. If you hang a limit over their heads, no crew will be unable to reach it.

Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 8:46 PM
Joined: 09/01/2009
Posts: 21

I agree with anonymous above.

But to answer your question, crew should be held responsible for the damages when they are either grossly negligent or when they have willfully damage anyones property.

In both these cases, it will also cost them their jobs and may even result in a law suit.

Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 9:20 PM
Joined: 14/01/2009
Posts: 1026

You would have to give us a hint as to what you destroyed !  Personally I would never make a crew pay for a mistake. Mistakes are commonly caused by inexperience or lack of supervision by the captain.  I see some yachts that permit  crew to run wild with pieces of ship equipment.  The tender is the classic

       In 30 years as a yacht captain I really cant think of any incident.  Good crew are very proud of the yacht and will protect it if you educate them. Naturaly if you didnt hire good crew, you made a mistake as captain.

Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2009 2:06 AM

A flip side to paying for damages.


I was in Central America maneuvering off a T-head in the marina when the stabilizer fin was clipped, taking off 20 percent of the fin.  I was mortified, as I have never hit anything in all my 20 years.  The marina failed to include that very pertinent obstacle when I inquired about the depth and details of the marina nor was it marked.  I offered to pay the $35,000 dollars in damage to keep my job.  Needless to say my offer wasn’t taken.  Accident?  Murphy’s law?  My friends say you haven’t traveled far enough if you haven’t run aground.  Perhaps not!

Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2009 2:51 PM

Did you lose your job?

I've always heard that there are two kinds of captains...those who have run aground and those who will.

Posted: Wednesday, April 8, 2009 3:52 PM

Yes I did. 

I'm sure some would think, " What a stupid idea to offer to pay for damages, fault or not , that's what issurance is for"  I feel accountable, that is what I consider a Captains responsibility is.

Posted: Friday, April 10, 2009 4:59 PM
Joined: 16/07/2008
Posts: 11

I too agree with the yacht owner anonymous. When an owner of a vessel requires crew to keep it operating then it should be expected that accidents will happen.
We all know that inexperience is found in a lot of crew working on luxury yachts. Sure, we all take our one, two or even three week classes earning us a certificate, but by no means is it a degree. Even the most experienced who have worked in the industry for years make mistakes and cause severe damages at times.
When a yacht owner buys a vessel along with it comes a costly insurance premium. If an accident happens I say let the insurance pick up the cost of repairs. At least the owner is getting what he is paying such a high price for.

Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 1:55 AM
I don't understand why you have the stabilizers deployed when approaching a dock. Central America is not known for up-to-date charts, reliable information from port authorities, or even capable maritime authorities. If it wasn't negligence, then it was simply bad luck and you should not have to pay for it nor have offered to pay for it.
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 2:40 AM
Joined: 09/01/2009
Posts: 21


Captain Rocky
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 10:01 AM
Joined: 09/05/2008
Posts: 5

To Anonymous that posted above: The stabilizer fins are always hanging out there vulnerable whether "deployed" or not. (In VERY rare cases are they retractable). Agreed that if it wasn't negligence he shouldn't have lost his job over it. Perhaps there is more to the story . . .
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 10:25 AM
Joined: 21/01/2009
Posts: 36

 Accidents happen, especially maneuvering in harbors.  I knocked the bottom quarter of a rudder off  in a French harbour while maneuvering in brown water. I am 3 meters fifty deep aft and touched the pyramid shaped rock ballasting that supports the dock when going stern to.  Accidents happen. Charts can never offer enough detail and my aft facing sonar becomes useless in prop wash. At four meters draft I regularly hit mooring blocks at dead slow speed  in harbours with the keel.  Looks dramatic to onlookers when the yacht instantly stops. I am only in these harbours because I was sent by the owner, he accepts responsibility.
Posted: Saturday, April 11, 2009 7:01 PM

More to the story, of course there is.  But not what you might think.


Remember I was already there at the T-head, I had backed in and hovered at the dock to pick up delivery crew.  I was on the outbound departure.  Yes, there was a tight schedule to be in Florida.  The way the owner was, I was damned if I do, and Damned if I don’t.  After all, this was his first big boat.  The stabilizer fins are not retractable nor are they zero speed and they draft 9.5 ft with cross beam of 32 ft tip to tip. 


The moral of the story, Don’t hold on so tight that you can’t let go.  If I was prepared to quit instead of risking my livelihood, I would have been better off in an already deteriorating situation that would ultimately end in demise.
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