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Captain in trouble for Owners bad decision
Posted: Friday, February 10, 2017 10:28 PM
Joined: 10/02/2017
Posts: 5


Before you all go crazy on the "Captain always in charge" thing, let me just say that I completely agree, and in the process of telling this story and seeking input, I am completely on board with the thought that Captain is on the hook for everything.

Hypothetically speaking, what if the owner of a boat is also the crew, and not a licensed Captain, and then does something illegal, that is somehow recorded, or some snitch reports the event, and then the Captain gets charged with a crime, and has to go to court.

For instance, lets say the owner insists on dropping the hook in a location where anchoring is prohibited, like on a reef, in direct defiance of the Captains orders NOT to do so. The owner, not knowing the rules, pulls the power play by threatening the Captain with termination. Then somebody videos the anchor, and rats them out.

Now the Captain is accused of violating laws, and of course there is the reputation issue, not to mention lawyer fees, and a criminal record if convicted.

OK. Discuss.


The Captain


Posted: Saturday, February 11, 2017 7:52 PM
Joined: 10/02/2017
Posts: 5

Has anybody ever been screwed by a headstrong owner whose maritime skills are lacking? Has anybody ever had bad circumstance with owner as crewmember making bad decisions?
Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 6:48 PM
Joined: 28/04/2015
Posts: 8

If the Captain - or any officer/crew member - is a Nautilus member, they should contact the union straight away. Nautilus has long campaigned on criminalisation, which is what this matter could lead to. Members get legal assistance, a 24/7 emergency helpline, and access to a worldwide network of solicitors that know the local jurisdictions. 

Anyone that isn't a member and works in this industry ought to join as a matter of course. The price of protection is cheaper than the price of your sunglasses...

Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 7:02 PM
Joined: 01/06/2008
Posts: 1064

Well, if the owner was serving as crew and acted in defiance of the captains orders, then the captain finds legal relief (and the owner/crew a whole extra level of shit) under Mutiny statutes.

As far as owner/management issues go, they are tougher, but it got so bad in the oilfield that Louisiana passed a law that says "If management threatens the captain's job, management buys the captain's criminal liability"; so there is legal precedent to shift liability under these conditions. That law in Louisiana did prove effective BTW, it didnt completely resolve the issue, but it made it a whole lot better.

Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 7:15 PM
Joined: 30/09/2008
Posts: 18

"Letter of Authority" works...the owner signs it before Captain takes command...It states the Captains decisions rule supreme,
Posted: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 7:51 PM
Joined: 18/08/2010
Posts: 2

Have the owner sign that he is taking over command of the vessel, before you drop the anchor etc. Tell him we need to inform the insurance company as well. I have done this in a calm polite full manner and they have always backed off.
Posted: Thursday, February 16, 2017 10:16 AM
Joined: 10/02/2017
Posts: 5

All terrific ideas. I will look into LA precedent. Letter of agreement seems logical too. Thank you all.
Posted: Friday, February 17, 2017 11:27 PM
Joined: 27/10/2014
Posts: 7

I agree with captjpk. Try to get the owner to sign on as master and explain to him/her the legal ramifications e.g. loss of insurance coverage etc. But let's be realistic here: If you are working for an owner who is likely to pull stunts like this, most likely your only option is to walk away. To avoid situations like this, bring this exact scenario up during a job interview with the owner (not yacht management) and make sure he/she understands that you are the master and ultimately responsible. If they do not agree or claim that they are "hands on" and will most likely insist on taking an active part in the operation of the vessel and cannot prove that they are experienced vessel operators or have the required licences - walk away as you will most likely end up in a situation were you will need to be taking responsibility for a situation the owner has created.
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