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Old 12 August 2008, 20:07   #1
Razorbill's Avatar
Country: UK - England
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Make: Pacific 8313
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Salvage Claims

Thought I`d throw this into the melting pot and see what people views were.
I was out 2 weeks ago in the Carrick Roads, Falmouth running in my recon. Sternpowr outdrive leg, as I was heading up-river, between Mylor and St.Just there came a heavy squall. As I was debating the sanity of what I was doing out there in an open boat at 24kts in the horizontal liquid sunshine that we are enjoying this summer, I spotted a small RIB about 500m ahead.
As I got nearer, it became apparent there was nobody onboard. I altered course towards it and soon saw it was completely empty, engine tilted up and the seats folded forward, just skimming along on the breeze towards the eastern rocky shore.
I radioed the coastguard but soon came to the conclusion that there was no-one immediately connected with the boat; a 4.5m blue Avon RIB c/w 60hp Honda four-stroke(quite nice, actually! but not a Pacific!)
I discovered it had a Mylor Yacht Harbour Sticker on it; Falmouth CG then called MYH and requested I took it into them.
By this time my mind had turned to salvage and the value of this nice little boat and engine; worthless had I not happened along and it had washed up on the rock at St Just. I made a quick phone-call to a friend of mine who has some experience of salvage, usually yachts and other small craft that come off their mooorings in unseasonal gales. His advice was to bring it to him and crane it onto his barge then notify the owner it had been salvaged. I have to admit this was tempting, however I decided to proceed to Mylor with my prize and see if perhaps I could get in direct contact with the no-doubt grateful owner and who knows maybe get a drink out of it?
It turned out the rib belonged to a holiday-maker; MYH only had the guys home number in Worcester(where he obviously wasn`t) so I decided in the end to leave it with the Mylor lads and my details and waited to see if I heard from the owner. I decide that parhaps if I spread a little "good Karma", some might come back my way, having just spent out 2400 on a re-con outdrive!
I did hearfrom the Avon`s owner the next day; he was extremely grateful and at a loss to know why his boat had gone adrift, although I did point out that the 8mm slippery nylon painter was possibly inadequate?
I also pointed out to him that I would have been within my rights to have claimed salvage on his empty drifting vessel, at which he laughed somewhat nervously and asked if I was going to send him a big bill. I told him "No" and that he`d caught me on a good day but I would be interested to know, what would others have done, apparently most insurers cover you for a salvage claim(although I`ve not checked my policy)
I just thought that if it was my boat adrift out there would someone be so charitable towards me?
Over to Y`all!

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Old 12 August 2008, 20:20   #2
Country: UK - Wales
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I have to be honest I would probably have done the same.

I spotted a drifiting yacht a while ago that got stuck under Mumbles pier. I called the coastguard who happen to be about 300 yds away and they sent the RNLI to recover it - they tied it to one of their buoys further out - bet it gave the owner heart failiure when he noticed it had moved!!!

Having found my own boat with 2 of the ropes snapped and hanging on by a thread I would like to think that someone would be as charitable to me.

Do unto others as you would like to be treated - or something like that!!!

Of course there is always the option of asking the boat owner if he is insured and covered for salvage BEFORE making a claim but then if everyone does that ALL our premiums go up.

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Old 13 August 2008, 01:13   #3
Country: Ireland
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I too would have given it back without looking for salvage rights. Twice before I have accepted a rope from a fisherman for a tow home and when I found out they could have claim to my boat I was horrified.
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Old 13 August 2008, 01:29   #4
Country: UK - England
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I think salvage is appropriate when specialist equipment is involved and sizeable vessels are lost.

I have towed boats back numerous times in 39 years boating - and it never crossed my mind to ask for anything, since I always thought "there but for the grace of God etc".

Only once I have been towed and again the skipper was very happy to accept a big "Thank you".

Lets keep it that way eh?
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Old 13 August 2008, 02:49   #5
Country: UK - England
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I have towed several boats back in the last few years and saved one from sinking, a thank you and a fiver for a drink keeps me happy, and I would hope to do the same in return!
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Old 13 August 2008, 03:26   #6
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razor - I believe that almost everyone here would have done the same - with possible exception of anyone who was opperating commercially and would have lost money as a result.

I think there is a misunderstanding about Salvage rules as well - they exist to encourage people to recover vessels which they wouldn't otherwise bother with. But recovering the vessel doesn't entitle you to the value of the entire vessel - only to a fee for your services, which would be in proportion to the value of the vessel, the risk to the vessel, the risk and skill undertaken by you as the salvor. So you are probably not much over the owner's excess on their policy.
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Old 13 August 2008, 05:43   #7
Country: UK - England
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Polwart is absolutely right there is a great deal of folklore and misunderstanding over salvage. If it ever gets as far as a court they will when assessing a claim for salvage consider 3 criteria.

The value of the item salvaged which is normally Hull and Cargo.
The risk to the items were exposed to when salvaged.
The degree of skill and expertise the salvor used in undertaking such salvage.

So at the end of the day you could spend a great deal of time arguing with insurance companies for little reward.

I am sure we could all do with some extra cash but at the end of the day can not a beer in the bar or a mug of well fortified coffee in the cockpit be reward enough. We all try to be selfsufficient but there may well be a time that even the most competent might be grateful of assistance of some sort. It seems from various post that you are not alone and most would prefer to spread such goodwill.
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Old 13 August 2008, 07:21   #8
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Add me to the list of people who have towed in a mariner down on his luck and has not even considered financial reward. Thinking about it, they have all been from the rag and stick fraternity. Actually tried towing a big un off the rocks at Old Harry, that one beat me, but fortunately not the RNLI

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Old 13 August 2008, 10:09   #9
Country: UK - England
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As with the sentiment of many others, a pint and a thankyou is more than enough. Again having done a few rescues the only time some cash exchanged hands was when I'd been involved in a long tow back to Cobbs Quay from out near Old Harry and the power boat was a bigun. 6kts for an hour towing something twice my size didn't half cane my fuel so I was grateful for 20 squid that was offered to cover my costs.

I reckon as far as the sea is concerned its better to be in credit with brownie points than in debit

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Old 13 August 2008, 10:37   #10
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Originally Posted by keelhauled View Post
I too would have given it back without looking for salvage rights. Twice before I have accepted a rope from a fisherman for a tow home and when I found out they could have claim to my boat I was horrified.
No they couldn't. Salvage law applies to vessels that in danger of sinking or other destruction. If you were broken down or out of gas, and (if in danger of being blown on rocks) could anchor, there would be no salvage claim, as damage to the vessel is not a likely outcome.

Last weekend, as i returned to the ramp after the first dive, a call came out from a larger boat that had run out of gas. I copied the coord's and was rather surprised to see that they were a mile out. USCG gave them the spiel about calling Vessel Assist, as it's not their policy to tow unless in danger (VA comes out of Santa Cruz, some 25 miles away.) I ran out, tossed them a line, and towed them the mile back in at a leisurely 5 knts. Put them on the dock, cut them loose, then retied and moved them over to the fuel dock, and all was good. The elderly gentleman thanked me profusely, and slipped me a wad of bills. Without looking at the amount, I told him he was quite welcome, and he headed off to see about getting fuel (the fuel dock was closed for lunch, due to reopen in a half hour.) As I was squaring away the tow rope, the kid on board ("kid" being about 25) came down and said his grandfather had found a bill in his pocket that he had meant to give me. He handed it to me, and I again stashed it without looking. We chatted for a bit, then I pocketed the bills, and went to find lunch. It turned out the guy had given me $150; a little excessive for a ten minute tow, I thought. Vessel Assist however, had they been called, probably would have been twice that, if not more, so I didn't complain too much.

I have also recovered boats broken loose from anchorages/moorings (worst, of course is when it's out at dive sites.) Never (well rarely) thought about making a salvage claim (and that having more to do with unfriendly owners rather than the boats circumstances.)


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