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Old 10-13-2010, 09:30 PM   #15
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My goodness.

Clean wake huh?

I hope as we delve into this mire, that all CL members will get a little something out of it and hopefully contribute their experiences to help you as well.

I will repeat myself--It is most certainly your right to fight for what you believe is due you and no one can say that you are wrong to do so. This is your right. However, I believe we are far afield from the clean wake concept with such a dispute as you are contemplating lawsuits et al. If anything in these sorts of matters, leaving a clean wake means to do everything within one's powers to not create animosity between the cruiser community and host countries and the rest of the maritime industry. Even if that means walking away from the fight which you have the right to get into.

Depending on the circumstances, making waves by staking out a position and fighting for it can have very negative consequences for other cruisers. This means not leaving a clean wake! If you are in a commercial basin, that basin could be closed to yachts in the future if it is deemed too much of a problem to deal with the litigious yachties. If your marina borders a commercial basin and the harbor has been contemplating closing access to small boats there, this is the sort of thing that can allow local authorities the excuse to close off access to small boats. If small boats aren't allowed near the big commercial boats, then the small boats can't be harmed by the big boats, etc.

The cost of cruising goes up for ALL cruisers when free anchorages, mooring fields, and inexpensive marinas close by to commercial basins are closed forcing cruisers to use more expensive berths. Hopefully you are not in a situation where local authorities are considering such things, but, your actions WILL have consequence for all cruisers in your area and while you may achieve your goals, don't think that the outcomes will be positive for those who follow you. It depends upon the local situation—which I have no knowledge of.

I suggest that one NOT cower or hide but rather that one behave with dignity and take a well-reasoned approach to maintaining one's balanced state of wellbeing. That balance considering the negative toll (emotionally) that such fights typically take on people against the financial gain one might win in such a fight. This issue is not one of pride or ego but rather of what makes the most sense overall.

BTW, I mentioned the “perfect finish” of the piano simply because it is a good analog as it was impossible to re-finish the high gloss lacquer without redoing the entire case of the piano. There was a “loss” which could never actually be recovered in that it was no longer “perfect” without such drastic action. It is the sort of matter and of such value that some people would have gone to court to be compensated properly. I believe the analog is quite good in that the gelcoat on one of your boats, though aged, is like the new unblemished laquer in that you don't necessarily wish to paint the gelcoat now, you wished to wait a few more years until it couldn't be avoided for reasons of age and maintenance rather than what someone else did which resulted in damage to your property. Further, cost similarities actually do exist as well. But, moving on...if you didn't get the analogy, you didn't get it, that's ok. Um, also, I never got a response from you on the BCC—is it wood or fiberglass? I own a wood boat and I'm truly interested to know as there are some matters of maintaining a wooden hull which are very different from that of a fiberglass hull and might explain your concern about your painted BCC hull.

I did not mean to suggest that you simply drop matters but rather that you fix your boat(s) and get on with life. I do not know the laws of the country you are in. I do know that many people in the USA do fix things and then present the bill to the responsible party. It may take months or years for the responsible party to pay, if ever, but the “injured” party can move on with life while waiting. It would seem that you should be able to get on with things, happily, while waiting for whatever you're waiting for in terms of compensation. If you are not cruising but rather staying there anyway (which it seems from your statements), then there seems no reason to not simply enjoy your boat(s) in the meanwhile. We would all love to know that you are using your boat(s) and enjoying them. You came to this forum for help with the matter and we are trying to do our best to help you on many levels. CL member James suggested a cleaning method, in his concern for your situation, and he as well as other CL members (myself included) would love to know if you have success at remedy for the final stains above the waterline which you stated still exist and if not, perhaps there are other methods that James can suggest. No CL member is going to be able to give you legal advice. Even though you only carry liability insurance on your boats, you are likely to be able to obtain sound advice from your own insurer and your own lawyer in-country.

I agree with you that one doesn't walk away from broad issues that impact an entire group, like “cruisers” at large. However, it is often difficult for one to be an advocate for a group if one has something immediate and personal to gain from the advocacy stance. Cruising groups like Seven Seas can act as advocates often because it is clear that their agenda is broad (for all cruisers) and not specific to the gain of a single cruiser. If one has had a bad experience in the past, it is often possible for that person to use the information to get business and government action taken so that others won't experience what the first person did.

Your statement “If we all were responsible for any damage to public and private property , would there be anyone still interested in cruising , if they thought that what ever happens to them and their boats or near-by public property, will be determined to be their fault and that they have to cover and pay damages to their boats and public property as well as to others too ?”

Well...ummm...we ARE responsible to others for the damage that our boats do. That is why we carry liability insurance. And, even if it is a storm that drives one's boat ashore, it can be found that one didn't diligently enough anchor or other matters within one's own control were such that one IS responsible for damage to public and private properties. This does happen with frequency, actually in the USA and other first world countries as well as the rest of the world. Ever since people have been cruising with yachts, they have been paying for fixing other people's stuff. It is a risk we all take.

And sometimes, even when well insured, cruisers have to personally back their liability; I know of a cruiser who, to leave Mexico, had to leave a sum of money to pay for a run-in he had with another boat there. He did leave the money in escrow so he could get on with his cruising to other parts of the world. The incident was NOT his fault. The other party didn't get the money. It may take a very long time for him to get his money back, if ever, when the courts get around to dealing with his case. But, he wanted to continue cruising and the situation of staying in Mexico while waiting out the matter didn't work for him. He's happily cruising elsewhere right now. These things do happen and they are part of cruising..

Your statement “What if the oil tanker insurance company said it was our fault for berthing our boats in that marina, which they are insinuating already, in trying to avoid paying a justified claim ?” They may say that. If your marina is less costly because it is very near a commercial basin, they may point to that fact. It may be determined to be true in the local courts even if you and I believe it is not true. This is a good reason for you to have local legal counsel so you can understand what you're dealing with. Sometimes there are places where just being there does put you at fault. While we lived in Japan, we were fully aware that if we were in a car accident even if the other party was really 100% at fault, the accident would always be assigned at least 20-25% our fault and we (our insurer) would have to share payment of repairs to public and private property. Why? Because we were foreigners to Japan and their legal system uses the logic that if the foreigners had not been IN the country, they would not have been in the auto accident and even sometimes they go so far to rule that if the foreigners' car weren't in that exact location (a perfectly legal location) then no accident would have happened at all! Therefore, some percentage of the accident is always the foreigners fault and it can be a large percentage. Is that fair or logical? No, not to my Western mind. But, that is the way it is for foreigners in Japan. If one wishes to live and drive there as we did for a couple years, we just has to deal with the risk of someone else doing something totally wrong and us paying for part, or all, of their mistake.

The great thing about being a cruiser is that you can move on to a different country, of your choosing, that suits your best interests. There is really not a reason to stick around someplace with laws, industry practice, or culture that does not make you happy.

I truly do hope that you have good and quick success at getting your boat(s) stain-free and in use cruising soon and that you manage to put this matter behind you.

Fair winds,
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Old 10-14-2010, 02:27 AM   #16
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Douglas,

I have been a member of the SSCA since 1987. My interpretation of the Clean Wake philosophy is a bit different from yours. The emphasis has been to conduct yourself in such a way that those cruisers following you will not have to deal with unhappy locals who were treated badly by cruising visitors to their country. I would not have thought of the clean wake philosophy as making sure that I, as a cruiser, was not taken advantage of by the legal system of the host country so that fellow cruisers coming to that country would not be taken advantage of.

Part of the clean wake philosophy is to not be a burden to the host country. I.e., one has sufficient insurance or funds so that accidents and ill health, regardless of "blame", would not compel the host country to support/pay for treatment/pay for damages due to the cruiser's presence.

I hate to make assumptions, but I don't understand your question, "Why are we as cruisers in foreign waters required to maintain 3rd party liability insurance, at all ? Why are the oil tankers required that too ?" Are you contending that you should not be expected/required to maintain 3rd party liability insurance? Although I think I am misinterpreting your comments, I'm not sure I understand what you do mean?

We found Singapore to be an amazing city, with a great emphasis on neat and tidy, plants and trees. Did you know that if a driver runs his car into one of the trees and damages it, he is responsible for paying for the replacement of that tree? They carry English common law to an extreme.

To my knowledge there aren't any Singapore barristers active on any of the cruising forums. There might be a few persons knowledgeable about maritime law, but again, I don't recall any practicing maritime lawyers frequenting any of the forums. And that, I'm afraid, is what you need. A professional, Singaporean, barrister with a practice in maritime law. I feel fairly confident that you could find one in Singapore. If you have your own hull insurance, I'm fairly sure your insurance company could help you there.

Finally, we have a friend who was unhappy with the insurance settlement offered him for damage to his home, and he hired an independent insurance consultant to negotiate with the insurance company. You might ask some people in Singapore if there are such specialists there.

Your best bet is to befriend some connected and knowledgeable Singaporeans who can help you find the local assistance you need. The population is what, 90% Chinese? One has to accept that you have to do it their way. It's their country, they can do whatever they want with it.

If you're in a Singapore marina, there are lots of Singaporeans there. What are they doing about this?
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Old 10-14-2010, 08:01 AM   #17
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Hello Douglas,

I shall send you a PM with the private contact details of a friend who has a home both in Thailand and Singapore. He is also an insurance executive and a yachtsman (Sailor).

I should also shortly have the contact details of one of Singapore's top marine lawyers. She is the sister of a good friend in England who is married to a yachtsman who is very familiar with the waters of South East Asia; he and I sailed together.

Richard
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Old 10-15-2010, 11:15 AM   #18
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Jeanie,

That was Douglas in one of his rants.. during such times, some of the things he write only makes sense to him. I avoid making sense of what he says during such occasions and wait a day or so to ask again what he meant to say. And this is what I think he meant: If we have the means and ability to make a stand and fight injustice, we should do it. Otherwise, we become just another one of the victims(examples) that will be used to discourage future victims from even finding out what they rights are. Leaving a clean wake, for others to follow, in this case is like setting a example. Maybe its a stretch from the original intent of the "clean wake" in the SSCA... I am not a member and I cant comment on that.

Anyway, in our particular situation, we see ourselves based in SG till mid next year. We are not stuck here because of the oil spill incident. I have a job here and slowly we are buying the bits and pieces of equipment and making the repairs when we can afford. We could move across the border, which is cheaper, but we will have no income. Thats why we are here in SG.

The status of our claim is now this. We filed the claims way early in Jun and July, and never heard from the reps. Whenever we wrote to enquire about the status, they send back a standard reply " We will revert to you in due time. " In early Sept, we heard that some other boats that filed claims much later than us have been settled. That was when we start seeking legal advise. Our 1st meeting with the lawyer (was free), and his advise was for us to get our own independant surveyor and loss adjuster.

We hired the most recognized pleasure craft surveyor here in SG and he too finds it strange how the reps were treating us. He took up our case, set up a meeting with the reps and then we starting getting more info thru him.

Thru our surveyor, we finally obtained written documents from the reps that shows the oil tanker is liable for our damage. Prior to this, all our request for case numbers and reference numbers were never entertained. We had no written document to show that we even have a case with them, and yet they instruct us over the phone(only), to go buy the stuff and repair the boat in whatever way we deem fit. Thats was scary! We did proceed to buy the ropes and fenders and cleaning solutions, but we could not afford to haul the boat for painting. We cleaned the boats ourselves and moved to another marina in SG that was not affected by the oil spill. Thats where we stop and waited for their response.

Now, the only dispute is how much is reasonable to pay. Their 1st offer to us was absurd! And we only got that because our surveyor was able to request that they state what they were willing to pay. And our surveyor agrees that the offer was way too ridiculous.

I would say that we are making progress, with the help of the surveyor, but I am not confident that they next offer will be reasonable. The fact that they are delaying our claims has cost us more, as our surveyor points out to us.

Our situation is stablized. Our boats are not sinking, and not too much of an eyesore to our neighbours. We are proceeding with what we have to do, in preparation of cruising Calliste across the Pacific next year.

The prospect of diving and cleaning the bottom every few weeks is not appealing to us, as we will eventually go into cold or shark infested waters. Repairing the underwater part correctly is a must. As Red said, think what we would do if they were no liable insurers. It simply means that I would have to work harder and earn that money for fixing the bottom properly before we take off next year.

Richard, we would really appreciate the contact of a good marine lawyer. The 1st lawyer that we met with, I am not quite impressed with his laid back attitude .. perhaps he was too comfortable with his place in society and dont really want to bother with such small cases.

Thanks everybody hearing us out and contributing your views. We dont always agree, but thats natural for differences in opinions as our situations in life are very different.

Cheers! (Lets get drunk and forget it for a moment. We'll deal with it when our attitude is better )
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Old 10-16-2010, 11:00 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lang View Post

Richard, we would really appreciate the contact of a good marine lawyer. The 1st lawyer that we met with, I am not quite impressed with his laid back attitude .. perhaps he was too comfortable with his place in society and dont really want to bother with such small cases.
Hi, Lang and Caliste,

Rather than a PM I have emailed you both & BCC'd the Marine Lawyer herself. What I have sent you is the contact details - which will require you to provide a good outline of the situation with the tanker's insurers - I have included a brief resume of this Marine Lawyer - she is a tough cookie and being a Singaporean herself is well placed to advise you both on the next course of action.

Good Luck

Richard
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Old 03-02-2012, 07:04 AM   #20
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Default Almost 2 years since that fateful day...

Well, I thought some of you cruisers might want to know how this is being resolved.

We hired a Singapore law firm to negotiate with the underwritters local reps. Sometime in Sept 2011, SV Eleanor was compensated for the damages, 3 times the original offered settlement. It was clear that we were going nowhere if we didnt have legal representation.

We used Eleanor's case to familiarize ourselves with the system and now are working on Calliste's case. In our lawyers opinion, there is 3 possible outcome. 1) We accept the low offer and move on. 2) The underwritters work out a acceptable offer, under pressure from our lawyers. 3) We go to court and receive an amount determined by the judge, after putting a lien on the vessel and seizing it when it enters Singapore port, make the company lose lots of money in terms of time and port dues, making the underwritters pay for court and our legal fees.

We can easily chose option 3, even if it is just to make them pay and probably not get additional gain to ourselves, because this is a case of 100% liability of the tanker and their underwritters. However, we still hope that we can work out something reasonable and therefore resolve with option 2...

My personal thoughts, at this time (meaning hindsight), there is no right or wrong actions. Everybody have to make a choice for themselves, choices that they can live with. We found that, we are the kind of people that stand up against bullys and work to get justice. We are pretty comfortable with ourselves and are now looking forward to cruising again. ..

Cheers!
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Old 05-08-2012, 07:37 PM   #21
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Thanks, Lang, for the update. I wondered if your work there was complete and if you had moved on to cruising other waters. Have you been sailing much or doing any trips?

Fair winds,
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Old 05-09-2012, 05:08 AM   #22
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Default Soon will be moving away from this region

We are still in SG/MY waters, but we are preparing to cruise to Japan next year. Following that, in the next season, we should cruise to Pacific NW. Thats the plan.

Calliste is now "on holiday" at Tioman. Read the blog link for the details.
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