Welcome to the Dockwalk.com Forum

 

In order to post a comment in one of the forum topics, you must log in or sign up. Your display name will appear next to your posts unless you check the Post Anonymously box. When writing a post, please follow our forum guidelines. If you come across a post that you would like us to review, use the Report Post button. Please note the opinions shared in the forums do not necessarily reflect the views of Dockwalk.


RSS Feed Print
owed money
mark
Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2009 3:51 AM
Joined: 14/10/2009
Posts: 3


I need some advice. I am owed money by my last yacht. The yacht is berthed in Monaco and I am in Florida now. They owe me about 2700 euro. I have a written and signed work contract stating that if they terminate my employment I am to receive this in writing and have a two week notice period. No of which happened. I was on leave and got a phone call, that was it. I have heard you can threaten to have the boat 'chained to the dock'. What is the best course of action?
Ben Franklin
Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2009 4:30 AM
Joined: 04/10/2009
Posts: 19


Okay, this is the second time this week someone has asked this question. First things first, how about scanning the forum to see if someone has already asked the question and that it has been answered.
Or just try this, get a small block of C4, attach it to the bottom of the boat, and blow it up. If more screwed over seaman just started to take the law into their own hands, maybe people would think twice about trying to pull a fast one.
Seriously, call whatever the law enforcement agency is in whatever country the boat is in, and have it arrested. Screw what people think about your reputation, wait until they are getting ready to do their charter or when the owner is ready to bring his next round of guests on board, and have it chained then. Teach them a lesson. You have a contract, have it enforced, hire a maritime lawyer to do the leg work and not only sue them, but get something for pain and anguish, and the mortgage that bounced.




Anonymous
Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2009 4:32 PM

Benny darling you are a rock star! Love your posts. Hope you're not somebody I probably dislike and have no respect for in person...but whatever, you're great. 

Maybe spray painting the hull is better than hurting people over money. Let's start a Revo over issues like this - spray paint the boat as being a bad boat.  Hell - let's spray paint the recruiting agents head quarters...spike thier tires! Btw, there's a Lowes on every corner in the States. As for the Med, that's gonna be a little more challenging and more expensive.  That any attorney usually won't go for that small amount of money.


Anonymous
Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2009 4:33 PM

Don't get mad...GET FRENCH!


Henning
Posted: Sunday, October 18, 2009 11:54 PM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1053


When you go on holiday leave a cell phone bomb on the seachest. Though with todays economy you'd be doing most owners a favor.
mark
Posted: Monday, October 19, 2009 1:58 AM
Joined: 14/10/2009
Posts: 3


All very entertaining, but what can I do REALLY?
Anonymous
Posted: Monday, October 19, 2009 2:40 AM
Basically all you can do is absorb the loss and chalk it up as a learning experience. This happens more often than it should, most captains do have the authority to see you are taken care of and if they wont exercise this, I wouldn't provoke him/her. They ususally have a lot of friends and can make your life difficult in finding another job. I probably woulndt use him as a reference either. As for chaining the boat to the dock, they use metaphorical chains and that action would be career suicide.
Henning
Posted: Monday, October 19, 2009 8:47 AM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1053


You place a maritime lien on the vessel through its flag state then execute that lien through the courts in the country where the vessel is located. In the US it costs about $10,000 up front to do this, although it's recouped from the owner if you win the judgement. If you have a contract, then it's very likely you will win in a fair nation. You may be able to find an attorney who will front the money on contingency. Call maritime attorneys where you are to get a referral for one in Monaco.
rodsteel
Posted: Monday, October 19, 2009 6:59 PM
Joined: 25/06/2009
Posts: 277


Mark,

 

If you received the contract through a crew agency, you might want to ask them for assistance.

 

Otherwise a written, certified-mail  request to the Captain quoting the circumstances of termination and the relevant sections of the contract and a certified-mail copy to the owner or management company is probably the best you can do (until the boat hits a US port?). This sets up your legal precedence for future action (if possible/reasonable).

 

Rod


mark
Posted: Monday, October 19, 2009 10:28 PM
Joined: 14/10/2009
Posts: 3


Hi Rod, thanks for the reply. My second call was to the crew agency who placed me on the vessel (my first was to the yacht manager). They then spoke to the yacht manager who confirmed that my work there had been great but that the owner had decided to let me go for other reasons not associated with my work there. They said that they would try and place me else where, and have been good to me. I emailed and phoned the yacht manager for a couple of months with endless assurances my money was just days away from being transfered. I eventually received payment up to my last day of work but not including my 2 weeks severance or notice period money. The agency said there was nothing I could do. When I started the job, every contractor and other crew in the marina who knew, the boat repeatedly told me to be careful on this boat with regards to money, but what can you do? I needed to work and was having a great season til I was canned witout warning whilst on leave. I was the captain, by the way, but not having done by business and law module yet, am not too familiar with this type of situation as it is the first time I' ve been f@#ked over. I had a call from one of their ex-stews while working for them who was trying to contact the old captain, again regarding non-payment of wages. I think these people need straightening out, especially as they made such as song and dance of the contract which was emailed back and forth a few times and amended. Maybe I will do like the other post suggested and contact a lawyer. My other idea was to contact the PYA (Professional Yachtsmens Association) in Antibes to see if they could offer some advice. Does this sort of thing really cast a long shadow over the rest of ones career? Is it better just to let it be and let them continue f@#cking over crew? Regards, Mark.
Chief
Posted: Monday, October 19, 2009 11:25 PM
Joined: 02/06/2008
Posts: 341


"I was the captain, by the way, but not having done by business and law module yet, am not too familiar ..."

 

Good grief, here we go again. What kind of captain does not know the ins and outs of how and when a seafarer is paid? Have you ever read a crew agreement? You hire and fire, or used to anyway, didn't you care how the system works and didn't you care about your own responsibility to crew who might know even less than you do? How did plan to handle the details of your own crew and protect the owner's interests if you don't know the law?

 

You say you don't know because you haven't had the course yet. Do you know how ridiculous this sounds? You are claim to be a captain but lack the curiosity to learn what laws and procedures apply to your own job? The MCA or one of the other storefront license mills was delighted to sell you a certificate but as a "captain" you really should exhibit some modicum of professionalism and take it upon yourself to learn at least some of the details of the job. It is your responsibility to "be familiar."

 

Quite frankly, I don't think you earned what you have already been paid but that isn't the point and because the laws you are "not familiar" with are there to protect all seafarers from liars, thieves, idiots and crimps who would take advantage of them, you are entitled to the protection they provide.

 

Take advantage of this time ashore to learn a little about your job. Take what remains of your paycheck and buy some study materials.    

 

Please let me know if this post was not diplomatic enough.


rodsteel
Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 1:31 AM
Joined: 25/06/2009
Posts: 277


Mark,

 

A key lesson from this incident should be that, in situations that may require "legal" redress, always leave a "formal" paper trail (i.e., phone calls and emails are not as "solid" as notarized documents and certified delivery receipts ;o)).

 

The choice whether or not to make waves is personal (e.g., how much clout does this owner and/or managment company have in the business?). If they are developing a bad rep, word of mouth may solve the problem ;o)).

 

Regards,

 

Rod

 

P.S. Chief, constructive criticism is useful, however, I would not put the tone of the majority of your post in that category ;o)


Chief
Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 3:09 AM
Joined: 02/06/2008
Posts: 341


"... constructive criticism is useful, however ..." Oh darn, and I thought I was being gentle and diplomatic 8-) There is a recurring theme with most of the complaints raised on this forum and the common element seems to be a lack of skills, knowledge, training, intellectual curiousity, and competence on the part of these 55 day wonders who somehow fell into the industry. Read the first post, it is a frightening example of the product of the MCA yacht licensing scheme. When I first read it I thought it was written by a backpacking deckhand, someone who made one trip on his first boat and got canned. Constructive advice to this "captain" would be a suggestion to seek different employment before another owner is driven away. We are not talking about teenagers venturing out into the working world. This poster is an adult, posing as a captain and extracting a professional's salary from an owner who obviously didn't know just how unprepared and untrained his captain was. It sounds like he may have figured it out but in too many cases it is the owner who leaves, disgusted with the costs and incompetence that sucked the joy from his venture into yachting.
Ben Franklin
Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 3:30 AM
Joined: 04/10/2009
Posts: 19


I agree with Chief. The RYA has bamboozeled it's way into a profession and is warping it. A seaman is a seaman, Yachtmasters are not. I will not hire any kid who comes by asking for a deckhand position even if he has a yachtmaster. It shows that someone is rushing to overachieve. I would rather have an Able Seaman on deck anyday over some kid who professes to have a Captain's License. It's a shame that something that the rest of us who have put in seatime and taken the classes after years of backbreaking work and standing actual watches to become proud of our Licenses, are degraded by a worthless rag of a "License". A 3000 OOW Ticket still won't get you on a 100ton ferry, cause no one trusts you with more then 12 people at a time. I saw one of the schools advertising that you can get the USCG 200 as well as your yachtmaster together, as I looked through it though it states that the USCG will not issue you a REAL license until you have done your seatime, which is 3 years of 8 hour watches. Maybe after this kid has gained some real experience and actually worked at sea he can find a Captains position again, in dockqueen time that could be a while.

Real Captain's get real tickets.

rodsteel
Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 5:18 AM
Joined: 25/06/2009
Posts: 277


Chief/Ben

 

Sounds like this is worth a thread of its own

 

Rod

 

P.S. I just spent a week in class with a bunch of Alaskan Crab/Pollock fishermen - listening to their stories I would tend to agree with you (difference between training regimes ;o).


Chief
Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2009 2:17 PM
Joined: 02/06/2008
Posts: 341


"I just spent a week in class with a bunch of Alaskan Crab/Pollock fishermen ..."

 

It's interesting that you used that group as an example. The reason those guys were in the class (probably) is because until just a few years ago, there was no training required to work in the fishery. Those guys were killing themselves faster than they could kill fish because they knew nothing about stability, naval architecture, or even basic seamanship. They were hunter gatherers who just happened to use a boat to chase their prey. A large number of them were street people who dried up long enough to work a short season. I used to sail as a relief on a very large steam powered factory ship in the Bering Sea, that ship required unlimited licenses and the difference in the knowledge level, professionalism, and the safety culture between that ship and the catcher boats and coastal freighters was remarkable.

 

The USCG had a few fisheries licenses but the knowledge and seatime requirements were in the same league as the MCA yacht licenses. The difference was that those guys actually went to sea, and often in weather that would have most yachties begging for a berth west of I-95 in Fort Lauderdale. The USCG really clamped down hard when the number of sinkings and deaths got too great to ignore and they forced quality training and standards on those guys. It worked.

 

Until a large yacht sinks or burns with the loss of the family of a multi-billionaire or some superstar little will change in the yacht world. There are too few boats, the losses to date have been purely financial (the "captain" of Lady Candida tried hard but got lucky) and as one flag state representative said, "they hardly ever go out of sight of land so how good do they have to be?"


Anonymous
Posted: Wednesday, October 21, 2009 9:21 PM
Don't blame the player, blame the game!

This industry expanded so rapidly who did you think was going to fill the gaps? There weren't enough salty old sea dogs to go around. Supply and demand! Same thing was happening on the engineering side, AEC sounds like a doddle!

So, Mark is merely trying to expand his knowledge by using this friendly knowledge sharing tool.  He didn't ask if there was anyone with a bee in there bonnet about the qualification scheme.

Sounds like it is not worth throwing money at it, I would keep harassing the management company and if possible the owner. Ultimately, he is the one who is stealing from you! Phone him up, tell him he has breached your contract.

P.s Sometimes backpacking deckhands turn into great captains, if the people they meet on the way arn't too stingy with their wisdom. 



Anonymous
Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2009 3:28 AM
To the last blogger, well done. Genuine advice offered without an axe to grind, a cheery reminder that not all bloggers are angry about something.
kkerwin-na
Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2009 3:56 AM
Joined: 18/05/2009
Posts: 1


Post the lien on the MarineLiens.com website. This is an international posting site for marine liens. They have instructions on how to do it. On an American vessel you can also post a lien on the U.S. Coast Guard lien site. And contact an admiralty lawyer in the national jurisdiction the vessel is registered in.
Dreaman
Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2009 9:09 AM
Joined: 13/07/2008
Posts: 28


Greetings to you all !
It smells a battlefield around, with no reasonable grounds ?
Without taking anybody's side, you guys sound like a court judging the guy who is trying to collect what he signed a Contract for, and obviously some of you started blaming him ? I agree no one is perfect, I agree too that Captains knowledge and skills are of vital importance and significantly affect the whole life on board. But mates, here is not the place and subject to these and none of us has issued Mark's Certificate, therefore none of us should judge it.
Originally Mark being a bit too fair to share more and expose facts, still was in trouble and looking for a friendly advice. If I would not have had such, I would not raise my voice here. Tangling the topics does not help the post purpose, does it ? In the end of the day some people getting too hot about it - should have where to utilize their power with more reasonable outcome. No intentions to affect anybody
Godspeed !

Anonymous
Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2009 10:24 AM
Well i think even most llawyers would agree that contract law is a very difficult field. I think you would have to talk to a marine Llawyer and although i believe you would win the case i think you would have to be prepared to put up alot of cash to make it happen. It really depends on how much of a point you want to make with the owners. Maybe just a legal letter would be enough for them to realise that you are being serious and that would probably be in the region of €100. If they push harder and want to go to court or arbitration you would have to decide if you are prepared to risk alot of money for €2600 and also the risk of being labeled a trouble case as a captain.
I think alot of us crew would be behind you to pursue this as i believe alot of owners do it because they know most people are afraid to chase them. I know if it was me i would cut my losses and put it down to experience, in the great scheme of things its not alot of money.
All the best

Anonymous
Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2009 1:41 PM
THIS IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM in this industry, it is more widespread than acknowledged, I am owed nearly $20,000 final pay & accumulated holiday pay by my last employer as per contract. As 20G is a lot of money I finally went to a maritime attorney of good repute, they were encouraging & requested $5000 upfront which I sent them, they sent the owner a letter of demand, made and answered a couple of phone calls & sent me an email telling me that it was likely going to cost more to proceed than it was worth,which had been my 1st. question to them, followed by an  invoice for $3,850 . So my advice is put this down to experience AND JOIN THE UNION much as it pains me to say it.

PS. CHIEF, just as it is possible to have a ticket and be a bad seaman it is also possible to be a good seaman & not have a ticket.

Richard
Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2009 1:57 PM
Joined: 29/07/2008
Posts: 10


Mark, I have recently handled the same issues and luckily I also had a written contract. In reality with your earning potential it might be best to move on and replace the 2.5k rather than dwell over lawyers fees and wasted time. My issue was for a lot more $ so, on the one hand I went through a very good marine lawyer in Miami, Jim Perry, perry@yachtlawyer.com, who deals mostly with yachts and is very familiar with your situation. On the other hand I also went to marineliens.com and produced a formal document that I was able to send to the owners, managers and their lawyers. Although this does not have great legal teeth it does 'stick' to the vessl and it alerts the owners of your situation and intentions. It is also a QUICK and FREE service as opposed to the 5k that it will undoubtedly cost you to post a lien through a marine lawyer. The process all takes time and you should be patient and keep constantly niggling the old boat and owners, in the end they may decide that it is less hassle to pay you. Good luck, it worked well for me but I would have got nothing with out the written contract.
Manny Valdes
Posted: Thursday, October 22, 2009 7:14 PM
Joined: 09/10/2009
Posts: 4


Mark, You will need to seek the advice of an attorney that practices in the area of Maritime Law. You will need to provide the attorney with a copy of your crew contract. One of the things that the maritime lawyer will look at in the contract is whether or not it contains a forum selection clause and a choice of law clause. If there are such clauses in the contract it will dictate where you can sue and under what laws. Another factor to consider is in what port and country where you in when you were discharged or came off the vessel when the wages were owed, as well as the flag of the vessel. Other factors that the maritime attorney will need to consider is whether the vessel touches port in Florida. If so she maybe arrested in Florida for the sums you claim are owed to you. These sums are considered a maritime lien against the vessel in favor of the crew member under the General maritime laws of the U.S. If the vessel does not touch port in Florida then you will need to arrest her in the jurisdiction where she can be found. This may pose a problem for you if you are here in Florida and the vessel is somewhere else. If she is in Monaco she can only be arrested in Monaco at this time. Also keep in mind that the longer you wait to assert your claim of lien for wages owed, the worse position you will be in, since under the General Maritime Laws of the U.S. the last lien in time takes precedence over older liens. The general rule in the U.S. is "last in time, first in right/ priority". This means that if another crew member came off the vessel after you, then that crew members lien takes priority over you claim of lien for wages. Hopefully this brief reply will help you. This is not a complete legal explanation as there are other factors to consider which will impact your claims and rights. Good luck. Very truly yours, Manny Valdes, Attorney in Coral Gables, Florida
chrismlewis
Posted: Friday, October 23, 2009 1:51 PM
Joined: 09/10/2008
Posts: 120


Unfortunately it will not help you on this occasion, but Nautilus will help their members with this type of problem amongst other things. Check out this link for member benefits.
http://www.nautilusint.org/About-Us/Pages/Member%20Benefits.aspx
Clearly there is a monthly fee, but well worth it for the legal protection alone IMHO.

Henning
Posted: Friday, October 23, 2009 2:25 PM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1053


Anonymous wrote:
THIS IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM in this industry, it is more widespread than acknowledged, I am owed nearly $20,000 final pay & accumulated holiday pay by my last employer as per contract. As 20G is a lot of money I finally went to a maritime attorney of good repute, they were encouraging & requested $5000 upfront which I sent them, they sent the owner a letter of demand, made and answered a couple of phone calls & sent me an email telling me that it was likely going to cost more to proceed than it was worth,which had been my 1st. question to them, followed by an  invoice for $3,850 . So my advice is put this down to experience AND JOIN THE UNION much as it pains me to say it.

PS. CHIEF, just as it is possible to have a ticket and be a bad seaman it is also possible to be a good seaman & not have a ticket.


You did not find a good lawyer. They did not advise you well. Whether they took a payment from the owner is a speculation depending on what country you were filing in. Typically, a lawyer will give no indication of impending action as it tips the hand. What one does, at least in the US is go to the Federal Circuit Court of whose jurisdiction the boat is in and get the a judge to issue an arrest and seizure warrant on the vessel. You then contract the US Marshals service, cost used to be $2500 (recoverable), to arrest the vessel. You will also secure a custodial service, in Ft Lauderdale you have National Liquidators, to take custody and secure the vessel for the court. Figure it'2 $10k plus, but Bob Toney will work with you because it, again, is recoverable. The arrest process is always done with no warning because people tend to take the boats out of the jurisdiction. Normally this stuff happens over bills >$15k, at $20k, you fall well above the threshold where "it's worth it". If you are still within 2 years, you need to find a better lawyer.

As for the PS.....Yeah, but which is more likely?


 
 Average 5 out of 5