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Old 10-03-2010, 03:24 PM   #1
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Ahoy All , What to do if the oil tanker's insurance underwriter is reluctant to pay to repair oil stain damage to your boat, or worse yet , offers an unacceptablely low compensation.

The US Documented sailboat owned by an American in a marina in Singapore, was oiled due to a collision of a workboat tender and an oil tanker in May 2010 .

Are there any guidelines on how to effectively handle this situation ?

Douglas , S/V Calliste .
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Old 10-03-2010, 09:08 PM   #2
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6 years ago an oil slick resulted in all the boats at my marina being scrubbed and detailed. I wasn't there at the time (away on travel) but came back to a nice shiny boat! I never saw what the boat looked like with the tar on the hull.
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Old 10-03-2010, 09:36 PM   #3
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I've heard similar stories of boats being cleaned by the insurer, etc. Typically it is not just ONE boat that has to be cleaned thus there is a system in place for compensation.

I do know that if the property is maintained in good condition before another party damages it, the injured party is very likely to be fully compensated for the damages. We one time had another party's insurer give us $2500 to repair damage to our then 18 year old car (with a blue book value of only $500) simply because the car was in pristine condition. We were amazed but took the money with a smile on our faces.

However, I also personally know of a older wooden powerboat here in the USA that had not been properly maintained, hauled, had its bottom cleaned regularly, etc, for at least a decade. The boat sat on a mooring and had layers of barnacles on the hull below the waterline, was missing topside and bottomside paint at the waterline, and hull-wise was a mess. The boat was not used by the owner, uninsure-able, and likely to sink any day. It needed hull paint and extensive hull repair BEFORE the incident. When a similar incident of oil spill happened near it, the insurer refused to fully compensate the boat owner. The owner had unwittingly put his boat in a situation to be excessively damaged (by lack of paint) and to not be easily cleaned without undue risk to the boat (all the barnacles were thick and the boat couldn't even be scraped without significant risk to planking and potential leaking/sinking). So while other nearby boats were cleaned and dealt with, the insurer offered this owner a small sum of money. The owner was furious. But, his particular situation was not common and he was unable to do anything about it here in the USA.

If your boat is clean and well maintained, it seems it will be an easy thing to handle. Find out what firm the insurer expected to do the cleaning and ask the insurer to contract directly with them for the work so you need not be involved in the finances of the matter. If the boat is not cleaned to your satisfaction, then I imagine you can demand it to be done properly. Talk with other owners of other boats to see what they are doing. Yours cannot be the only yacht in this situation? If your boat already is having problems with bottom paint, topsides paint, etc, the insurer may just be saying "hey, you've got to paint this soon anyway, so here's some compensation to make it easier."

Good luck in getting your boat cleaned.

PS. I just finished reading this article in the Log which mentions how often we boaters in So. Cal end up scrubbing oil and tar of our boats...and that somehow reminded me that you originally brought up this topic way back on May 31, 2010. Surely you've cleaned the oil off before now? An entire summer has gone by and I can only imagine that the boat has been used and cleaned several times and this is all "old" news and you are simply interested in recouping some of the initial cleaning costs. How much did it cost to clean the boat?
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Old 10-04-2010, 02:58 AM   #4
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Thank You , Redbopeep , for your reply . Always there seems to be extenuating circumstances in every case.

Yes , you are correct about remembering our post back in May 2010 .

There seems to be no remedy or solution in near-by sight .

There are also conflicts that arose between cultures , of Malay , Singaporean, and American .

We all just want our boats to be repaired to the condition that they were in before the oil spill, but there lies the rub !

My wife keeps reminding me that the oil spill was not our fault,,, that we were inocent of any wrong doing,,, so why do we have to accept only a percentage of repairs ?

It is called 3rd party liability claim ,,, what are our responsibilities ?

Douglas
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Old 10-04-2010, 03:44 AM   #5
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I know nothing about the legalities you're discussing. You might get in touch with your own insurer to figure things out.

In life many things happen that are, well, just not fair. We can get wrapped around the axle about them or we can get over it and move on. Everyone has their own philosophy. I can recount many incidents of "damage" to my property or theft of property or customers diverted from my business based on fraud on the part of another business, I can tell you about lost opportunities, actual money lost, security deposits wrongly kept by business or apartment landlords....I could go on and on and on. I won't. I do the paperwork to achieve compensation when I have been wronged and there's a logical way to do so. If it's a tough situation, I move on. Literally. When we were rebuilding our boat, we moved it in the early part of the project to get it out of a bad situation in a boatyard. The move cost us an additional $8,000 to the project. We had documented the issues and wrong doing but we didn't take the "guilty party" to court. Why? It wasn't worth it in emotional distress to deal with the negatives of the situation. My husband and I wrote that off to one of life's lessons and moved on with things. If we'd spent time fighting and bickering and in court, I'm pretty sure we wouldn't have gotten our rebuild completed as soon as we did and we'd have been pretty miserable.

It is often hard for people to "move along" and get over things when there is a well defined "guilty party" at the base of the bad thing that has happened to them. Much easier for it to be a natural disaster, a fire, anything. Or, for the guilty party to be someone with nothing--a homeless person that one cannot possibly extract anything from. Then, people seem to be able to get over things more easily.

A little old lady once told me "nobody ever said life was fair" and I'll tell you--it's not. But, so what? pick up the pieces and move along to live a happier life. Get out the scub brushes and clean the hull. Make the next paint job a little earlier.

Our time on this earth is limited--deciding what to do with it is important.

Fair winds
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Old 10-04-2010, 10:40 AM   #6
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If you've been in Singapore these past 5 months only to get this insurance claim resolved, I can imagine you'd be very angry. How much of a settlement was the insurance company offering, compared to the cost to clean the boat up? What has your insurance company had to say about the issue? They have the experience and wherewithal to get more done than you probably could, so where are they in this process?

What marina were you in? Raffles?
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Old 10-07-2010, 07:49 AM   #7
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Hi Brenda and JeanneP , Thank You for your replies, but because of the BP Gulf Oil Spill, I thought this would be a hot topic and info sharing would be abundant.

We had two keel boats that got oiled. My wife's 35 y/o Cape Dory Typhoon, and my 25 y/o Bristol Channel Cutter, both well maintained.

The C D , has the original gelcoat in good condition, and didn't need painting, and it was just anti-fouled before the oil spill.

All the SAF Changi marina boat owners were waiting to clean their boats,,, until after the oil disapated. That was about one month.

There are two travel lift yards in Singapore, a cheapy, and an expensive one,,,, the insurance company made arrangements at the cheapy yard, for boat cleaning.

My wife took her boat to the cheapy yard for cleaning and the oil spill damage survey. That was a mistake.

The cheapy yard didn't protect the slings and during lifting the dirty slings scratched the gel coat.

This yard was in a hurry, and rolled on and alkyline (SP-?) degreaser, on the hull sides and down about a foot onto the antifoul,,,, then they pressure sprayed it all off, some of the oil was blown onto other boats as well as over the gunnel and onto the deck.

The degreaser had dribbled down the bottom leaving streaks to the keel as it was powerful enough to eat through and remove the antifoul itself.

Acetone, MEK , and other cleaners and Thinners were all used to try to remove the oil staining from the porus gelcoat, but the stains remained.

The yard manager reccommended to paint the gelcoat, and supplied a quote to do so, but my wife liked the mostly maintaince free gelcoat, and wouldn't have even thought of painting the boat before this. BTW how do you get paint to stick to oil stains ?

Since it is virtually impossible here to replace the gelcoat, what is to be done , replace the boat , maybe ? The insurance company's underwriter recommended that they would pay 25% toward the topside paint job,,, and only 25% of a new antifoul paint job.

As for my BCC , I will not allow the Cheapy yard to touch my boat, and I cleaned the waterline and topside best as I could using the thinner and scrub down process that was recommended by Awlgrip,,,,, Raffles Marina sprayed the topsides with Awlgrip after repairing the boat from that 2005 Tsunami dammage.

As for our insurance we only could afford public liability after our losses due the financial crisis.

We saw a lawyer, he said get a Loss Adjuster and survey report on each boat, we are doing that now. He also said that the insurance company will be in no hurry to settle our claim and is prepared to wait us out.

I have been thinking of shipping my boat back to the USA and using the US court system to litigate my boat claim from there, as it is a US Documented vessel.

My wife being Asian and familiar with the Singaporean court system , is leaving the proper paper and time trail, should we have to sue , sometime in the future.

All we ever wanted is to get our boats back to the condition they were in before being oiled !

Of course we are learning interesting stuff about oil spills all over the world and the merchant shipping insurance issues, but we have better ways to spend our time.

Douglas
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Old 10-07-2010, 06:46 PM   #8
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Douglas
G'day mate. Try washing the 'gel-coat' down with 'sugar-soap' . You must keep the 'soaped-hull' wet for at least 20 minutes (use a very light spray form a hose) without washing off the 'sugar-soap' and then wash it again with the soap & finally wash it down with water. Try that a couple of times. Get back to me with your progress. There are a few other ;ways to clean 'gel-coat' that I know of. Ciao for now - gotta go catch a plane. james
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Old 10-07-2010, 09:20 PM   #9
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Painting a boat is a quite different from painting a house. The paint is a two-part epoxy, most effectively applied professionally with a spray gun. The original gelcoat must be sanded down, both to roughen up the gelcoat and to remove all oil and wax.

You say that the gelcoat was porous and thus the stains can't be removed. Gelcoat is not maintenance free, and in the tropics it is important that it be waxed and buffed regularly, at least twice a year both to protect it from the damage caused by UV rays, and to provide a barrier coat against dirt and chemicals. Had there been a hard wax protective coat on the gelcoat there might have been less problems with removing the oil, though your description of the cleaning process sounds worse than amateurish, it sounds as if the yard was incompetent. Since the yard destroyed the antifoul, it seems to me that the yard and the insurance company should shoulder the complete responsibility for new bottom paint. Has the insurance company made claims that the boat was due for a new antifoul job anyway and that's why they will pay only 25%?

A good, professionally applied paint job on a boat is almost as good as gelcoat, and for boats that are 35 years old and 25 years old, I would guess that they were already overdue for a paint job.

What a shame that things still haven't been put right. I'd like to hear how it all turns out.
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Old 10-08-2010, 01:19 AM   #10
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It is a shame that things seem messed up after all this time. And, yes, wax is a good thing for gel coat to seal it up and protect it from chemicals and what-not from messing up the gel coat.

I can't wait to hear James' further ideas on the clean-up if his first one doesn't work out. Gel coat is amazingly resilient if it hasn't been let go too long. The boat in question isn't that big, so it seems you should be able to get it done in very short order.

Is the BCC fiberglass or wood? I've seen some lovely wood ones in the San Francisco Bay area this summer.

You'd have to litigate in Federal court for the matter you're discussing. You'd want to check into it, but it seems that there's a hefty filing fee for doing so (I'm thinking the fee is around $4-$5K) in Federal court. I'm not a lawyer, but I'd doubt that you could do anything in a state court. Unless you have a friend who's a lawyer who can help you out...this isn't sounding very cost effective. Seems the actual cost of shipping the boat back to the US wouldn't be small either. All-in-all, it just sounds like you're better off cleaning the boat and moving on with other activities.

I've already given you my song-and-dance on "move on" and spend your energies elsewhere (including cleaning up your boats! and enjoying them).

Life is short--I did mention that already? Well, you've now got a good story to add to your "stories of life abroad" and all.

I could tell you an amazing story...No, I think I WILL tell you the story... about how when we were moving from the US West Coast to Japan in 1991, the movers, on the way out the door, dropped my (already crated) shiny and perfect two year old grand piano onto my husband's car (which was going into storage the next day). They immediately paid for the car damage (mentioned above) of replacing a door before the car was stored and having the door painted to match the car (which was done 2 years later when the car came out of storage) but there was no time to un-crate the piano to look for damage--that would have to be done in Japan since the crate looked fine). When the piano was taken out of the crate 6 weeks later in our new home in Japan, there were indentations/imperfections in the previously perfect lacquer along the straight side where it was secured to the "piano board" in the bottom of the crate. Even though they were not small, nobody but me would have even noticed that they'd not been there before, btw. After a couple frustrating months of trying to deal with the Japanese side of the movers and hubby's employer's movers' rep who'd paid for the move/crate/etc, as well as dealing with our own insurer with which we had a policy for high value items including the piano...I decided my sanity and time were more important than the value of those cosmetics which would never be able to be fixed without it "showing." I "moved on" to other things. No money was ever collected, no repair was ever performed, a note was made in our file with our own insurer that if cracks showed up in the dented areas they'd deal with the lacquer. No cracks ever showed up before we changed insurers two years later. No, the piano isn't perfect anymore because of that. And, yes, it was clearly somebody's fault--not ours. And, I coulda' pushed and pushed that noodle up a hill to obtain compensation. However, that's not my thing. I'd rather be enjoying life

I now have a great story about my favorite thing in life -(my piano) attacking David's favorite thing (his car) and how it all turned out. We laugh about it and feel thankful that nothing truly horrible happened to either one or to us. The piano is still very lovely, sounds great, and those indentations don't really show and the car has had lots of fun times following the 1991 incident as well. Pics...because I like pics and we don't see enough of them on CL...are of the piano in 2006 right before we sold the house and lent the piano to a friend and of the car during an auto enthusiasts event in 2000.
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Old 10-11-2010, 06:05 AM   #11
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Red,

It would be nice if we could walk away from the situation and move on to better things in life. I wish very much (and envy you very much), but our current situation doesnt allow us too. That being the 1st reason why we continue to pursue this matter.

The 2nd reason is this. There has been some bullying by persons representing the insurance co, in the ways of "taking things personally", making things difficult by deliberate delay tactics that are aimed at exhausting our resources and patience. In essence, those that allow themselves to be bullied into some token settlement will be taken full advantage of by the insr co reps, and then will be used as examples for 1) glorifying their ability to pay out for less than their liability, so that they look good to the insr co and ensure future engagements 2) pressurizing other victims to not dispute the low settlement and just accept whatever they deem as fair.

Another thing that comes to my mind, in the event of a long drawn settlement dispute, the reps may make more money as they charge the insr by the hours of handling the dispute. So perhaps this is an deliberate attempt at milking the cow and denying the calf. I dun know this, just a speculation.

As of now, our boats are cleaned, but stained above waterline, and fouled below waterline. Our finances do not allow us to rectify that situation right now, and so we have to pursue the matter. I really do wish we could move on... (see, I really do envy your comfortable situation).
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Old 10-11-2010, 09:33 AM   #12
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I can understand the view on the insurance rep's.

My Father retired from the re-insurance/underwriter world some years ago. His basic view of the insurance industry is legalized racketeering. I will leave off the rest of his views as this is a family board, he retired as a Senior VP with all the credentials that you can get in the industry. Now he does what he enjoys, studying and writing about the sections of history that interest him and teaching others.

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Old 10-11-2010, 04:19 PM   #13
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Dear Lang,

I have empathy for your situation for we have found ourselves in situations that many people would find untenable. By finding the best way through such difficult situations, you will become stronger and within that strength you will prosper. It is my firm belief that this is so.

There are practical matters at hand (finances and boat related) and there are issues about how one chooses to live one's life--a matter of philosophy. these are both important.

The matter of people taking things personally turns this into a "fight" and you may choose to fight that fight, it is your right to do so and no one can say you are doing the wrong thing. In my philosophy of life, this fight does not fit in. I don't care how terrible another person is, nor how "right" I am to fight the fight. What I care about is if I am living the life I want to live and if my days are filled with goodness rather than negative feelings. I could not fight the fight that you may choose to fight. My energy, my health, my entire constitution is not up to that sort of thing. I would walk away with nothing before hurting my soul with such negative matters.

On the other hand, if there were absolutely NO way for me (financially or physically) to fix matters on my own, then I would continue to pursue the insurer. However, from what you have stated, I feel I would be able to get in the water, scrape the fouling off my boat myself, buff and polish my hull above the waterline myself (even while the boat is in the water) and move on with my life. Some people with very little resources scrub and scrape their boats week after week in warm waters while they are trying to get the money together for a haulout. Some racers refuse to use anti-fouling paint and do the same. Where there is a will there is a way to fix each and every problem.

You make several references to not having the financial resources to handle the matter--it is possible that you can cruise to another less costly location? If you are not cruisers living aboard your boat(s), perhaps you should sell one of them in order to be able to properly maintain the other boat? It is very difficult to manage one boat let alone two boats on a tight budget.

It seems that this terrible thing of someone making things personal may have forced you to focus upon that "personal" deed rather than the practicalities of the matter. A good though process would be for you to "pretend" that there is NO insurer and ask yourself what you would do to fix this matter on your own. Once you have resolved what that would be, perhaps you can do it so that your boats will be taken care of properly and you can enjoy them.

Fair winds,
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Old 10-13-2010, 12:32 PM   #14
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Hi Brenda , What does " Leaving A Clean Wake " mean to you ?

I have been a long time member (until recently) of Seven Seas Cruising Assn ., and those of us who subscribe to the "Leaving A Clean Wake", and sharing cruising information, in their attitude are welcome to join that organization.

You say that you would rather run away than fight a battle that could help incoming cruisers sometime down the time line .

Would that be leaving a clean wake ?

If the insurance underwriters could bank on the fact that cruising sailors could be bullied away and would not stay and defend their claims and rights, would that be leaving a clean wake for others to follow ?

Although we agree with you that it may be better to leave sleeping dogs lay, and tuck our tail under our hind quarters and run , but when and under what circumstances would justice prevail ? 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 ?

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 ?

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 ?

Obviously , your view has great merit and wisdom ,and that is what works for you , but we are not asking for sympthy here , just instead we are asking for help from knowledgable cruisers who wish to share helpfull information on the legal responsibilities of cruising our boats in foreign waters .

If our boats were so lucky as your piano to only get a few dings in this mishap , we might feel the same way as you, but this is a bit different , and still relevant to cruisers who follow in our wake .

We do Thank You , for your advice and the time you took to share that with us and your stories too , but we do know that there are lawyers as well as doctors out here cruising and we hoped that your forum would reach them for the advice we need .

I wish to apologise in advance, to anyone who finds my thoughts or writings offensive, as I know of no other way to ask for help from a cruisers forum .

Douglas , S/V Calliste , Singapore
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