mike french's Blog

FLAGGING FAITH?

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This years Caribbean season is largely over and as it is confined to the annals of yachting history I am concerned that the it will soon be out of sight and out of mind.  There were a number of injuries, accidents and even a fatality during the season that should give us cause for concern and yet they have largely been swept under the table and kept from entering the public domain.

Why have there been no published results of any investigations or were there simply no investigations? 

Should it matter that accidents and their causes are kept quiet? Maybe they are not being kept quiet but are simply still 'under investigation'.

We could all benefit from finding out the truth and the documentalble facts of any case.  It might shape future legislation or training requirements for the better, it might simply make us do things in a safer way.  After all, since the Titanic we have been forced to learn from accidents which have not only yielded clear lessons but provided the political capital to see changes made.

Following the one particular accident where a tender was driven into a rock in the dark, there has been much speculation about the cause and even a statement by one of the crewmembers.  This has added to the arguments for a "highspeed" component to be incorporated into any rib training course.  Why?  The speed may not have been important.  If they were drunk let's hear it and be done with it.  We all assume that the driver was drunk, after all they were said to be returning from a bar late at night so it is a forgiveable summation, but, we don't know for a fact.  My point is this:  Was it investigated, was anyone breathalysed?  Drug tested? Isn't that the norm in the case of a serious accident?

It is difficult to have faith in a "system" if there is not a dicernable system at all.  We all have to train and qualify and conform to the system because that is what is demanded of us yacht crew.  Are we not expect we have reasonable demands of the system to inform us of failures.

The MAIB serve to investigate accidents for British flagged vessels but who should investigate accidents for other vessels, the local authorities or the flag state or both?  It just seems to easy to let these things go unreported.  You have to ask why?

 

 

 


This is your job Mike. Only a veteran seaman can observer , analyse then pass on to the next generation. Official reports are always late, poorly conceived , corrupted or swept under the carpet.
Posted by: junior at 31/05/2010 17:50


I asked an investigator for a major yacht insurance company this very question recently. His answer: because yachting is based on irrationality; he says we're never going to make yachting into a professional industry (like the airline industry) when the very idea of owning a yacht is irrational.
Posted by: Kate Lardy at 01/06/2010 16:13


Here's a concept - less regulation - less enforcement - self regulation. Who wants to live in a police state. That's why we have yachts... to escape
Posted by: Flagrante Delicto at 01/06/2010 19:21


Flagrante

That is just flagrant stupidity. If you want to escape join the foreign legion. With that attitude I sincerely hope you have no-one under your care.
Posted by: Mike French at 01/06/2010 19:53


Welcome back Mike, you're absence has been noted !!

Regarding the accident mentioned I have it on good authority that the insurance write up stated the vessel ... 'hit a foreign object in the water'.

Big Major's is about as foreign as it get's down here in the Exumas but I would hate that you should get into trouble for suggesting that they hit a 'rock'! As for drunkeness and speeding ....
Posted by: Richard at 02/06/2010 21:02


Hi mike..fyi, the crew were dropped off by a sober crew member and picked back up by the same. Thanks for speculating though!??
Posted by: mike at 04/06/2010 06:35


Interesting to see an opinion piece that chastises the flag for not being strict, yet it is these same open registries that owners and crew demand because of their ability to not be as rigid as a traditional national flag. Last I knew, our industry operates on the premise of self-regulation...best seamanship and commonly accepted practices. LY2 and the other flag yacht codes are good guidelines for a private yacht, but that's all they are. Have you ever seen a flag-state inspector walking a beat like a policeman? Absolutely not. That's not their role.

That being said, in our industry, as competitive as it is today, what person is going to volunteer information that could be career ending or in some instances, criminally negligent? No reporting system is completely anonymous.

And as far as the MAIB, their jurisdiction stops at a pleasure vessel. Says it right in the Merchant Shipping Regulations. There is no agency to inspect pleasure vessel accidents, nor do we want one. Government involvement only brings more regulation. And while some regulation is beneficial, the majority of it is tedious and only a revenue source for that agency or its affiliates (like a training school, right Mike?).

So Mike, I think your heart is in the right place, but you need to come down off your soap box. Be careful what you ask for. If you want more regulations for private yachts, soon there will be no private yachts left to work on.
Posted by: Ben Dover at 04/06/2010 21:29


It is like those days when you could buy fruit and veges at the road side stall and leave the money in an honesty box. Most dissappeared because of dis-honesty. The yachting industry is largely the same, full of dis-honesty. I maintain the industry is one of the most unprofessional around considering its size. In remote locations, incidents and accidents will go un-notified and many will be because for the fear of humility and or loss of job scenario. The only time something will be or have to be properly reported is when there is a major injury, death or mechanical damage where there is no way out of a proper report. Now the actual and correct details may also suffer when written down, again to avoid blame or consequences as it sounds like in the accident Mike refers to. I read all the initial reports and it appears there are extremes in the actual events, doesn´t surprise anyone to be honest.
If you screwed up, put your hand up, or leave the industry as we don´t need you.
Capt Kaj
Posted by: Capt Kaj at 08/06/2010 15:24


Simple question here...why are crew using and having access to the OWNERS very expensive toys to go out and party and run around? Why are crew drinking and partying when the vessels are at anchor? Why are Captains not telling there owners who have had too much to drink that they should not be driving the tenders and if they choose to do so they will not permit any crew to go with them for there own safety. So you loose your job and have to find a new one if the owner is not a reasonable person. I will take this all day long over calling some kids family to tell them you didnt have the courage to stand up for what was right and now there kid is in critical care or even dead because you didnt use good judgement. Its funny how money can cloud peoples judgement. Not make the right decision because you may loose your job to the guy with all the money or just plain want to use something thats not yours but you almost feel like it is because your so wrapped up in the awe of the money scene. Wake up people!!! You have a responsibility to your employer, your crew and your crews family who trusts you will look out for there best interests and protect them. If you want to be the "Captain" then be willing to make responsible choices. If you make stupid choices then bring on the investigations by both local authorities and flag state officials. Maybe this will enforce the responsible decision making process for some that seems to be lacking.
Posted by: Capt. Old School at 18/06/2010 16:55


Simple question here...why are crew using and having access to the OWNERS very expensive toys to go out and party and run around? Why are crew drinking and partying when the vessels are at anchor? Why are Captains not telling there owners who have had too much to drink that they should not be driving the tenders and if they choose to do so they will not permit any crew to go with them for there own safety. So you loose your job and have to find a new one if the owner is not a reasonable person. I will take this all day long over calling some kids family to tell them you didnt have the courage to stand up for what was right and now there kid is in critical care or even dead because you didnt use good judgement. Its funny how money can cloud peoples judgement. Not make the right decision because you may loose your job to the guy with all the money or just plain want to use something thats not yours but you almost feel like it is because your so wrapped up in the awe of the money scene. Wake up people!!! You have a responsibility to your employer, your crew and your crews family who trusts you will look out for there best interests and protect them. If you want to be the "Captain" then be willing to make responsible choices. If you make stupid choices then bring on the investigations by both local authorities and flag state officials. Maybe this will enforce the responsible decision making process for some that seems to be lacking.
Posted by: Capt. Old School at 18/06/2010 16:55


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