Captain hired as crew


#1

Hi all

I don’t know if this is the right venue for this question; but I’m curious to hear the opinions of those on the thread.

I have heard that if I am a licensed captain, that I am ultimately responsible for any vessel upon which I am a passenger; irrespective of my capacity on board. In this scenario, assume that this is a recreational vessel and that I am the only licensed person aboard.

Has anyone else heard this? If not, is there, or could there be any truth to this?

Thanks

Corey Mitchell


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#2

In my own opinion. Every recreational vessel I go on I try not to be dumb or associate with some retards on the water. One it is a matter of professionalism and two I’m afraid if involved in an accident with a friend behind the wheel who was incompetent it would probably fall on me some how. BUT that isn’t a cfr or anything just my personal opinion


#3

if you are not at the helm or controlling the movement of the boat you are a guest and nothing more. The second you take any move to even advise the guy driving you can be suppoenaed in an investigation if there’s an accident and if it comes out you are licensed then who the hell knows what would happen.

So just enjoy yourself and don’t go out on the water with idiots. I had to take over on a pleasure boat once because the guy driving (the boat owner) was taking us into peril (he sideswiped a bouy). After the party ended several people came to me to thank me for taking over when I did. Needless to say that I didn’t get to do any drinking that night which sucked cause it was a PARTY!


#4

As a licensed (oops, “credentialed”) mariner, your ethical responsibilities are higher than members of the general public. If you are on board a pleasure craft as a passenger and you sit back and watch while the moron driving the boat T-bones the nearest ship, you can bet that the accident investigators are going to want an explanation. But you are not by default responsible for everything that happens on board just because you have an MMC.

But the topic of your post is “Captain hired as crew”. If you’re signed on to the vessel as a deckhand, you will be held to a higher standard than a non-credentialed sailor under the same premise: that by being credentialed you have a higher level of knowledge and responsibility. I used to work for Washington State Ferries as an AB while holding a Master’s license. I maintained my license insurance at the advice of my attorney due to the fact that I would indeed be more liable and the USCG would go after my ticket if I failed to exercise “master level judgement” in my daily work as an AB and in the performance of my duties in an emergency. Because I can be a real a-hole sometimes and have lapses in judgement I thought it wise to keep my insurance coverage going.

It’s the same thing with other professions: a doctor, for example, who ignores someone in the same room who is choking to death on a Cheeto is going to be held to a higher standard of responsibility thatn the lay people who also stand around and watch the guy die.

Another example would be that of a lawyer failing to save another lawyer from being eaten by a shark. The ABA would bring him up on charges for not creating work for both of them by suing the shark for damages.


#5

[QUOTE=captcore;58449]…could there be any truth to this?[/QUOTE]

Only if your name is Walter Mitty.


#6

[QUOTE=dougpine;58457]It’s the same thing with other professions: a doctor, for example, who ignores someone in the same room who is choking to death on a Cheeto is going to be held to a higher standard of responsibility thatn the lay people who also stand around and watch the guy die. [/QUOTE]

Held to a “higher standard” than whom and by whom? There is no “duty to assist” and there can be no liability until assistance is offered and a relationship between the doctor and the injured is established. Even then, in the case of a “good Samaritan” there may be state laws that protect the rescuer from liability.

A case might be made that as a maritime professional you have a duty to assist in helping to save lives in the case of a fire or sinking but doing anything more than helping if asked or doing what any other person might do if able would be bordering on interfering with the duties of a crewmember.

It might feel good to be “special” but, unless you are a crewmember, playing Walter Mitty sounds like a good way to get in a great deal of trouble.

As a passenger you simply cannot know what is going on and second guessing the vessel’s officers is a minefield for fools to tread. As a captain do you want some unknown know-it-all to butt in in the middle of an emergency or question your judgement or decisions? Where would you stand if you abrogated your legal duty and authority to a passenger just because they claimed to be a “captain” or something?


#7

Doesn’t matter if a boatload of Captains is out on the water and the “Captain” screws up and runs it aground. There is ONLY one captain aboard to call for abandonship. or firefighting.

Of course if the ship is going down, and in my judgement I ‘may’ have to hasten preparations to do something, I may. But legally there is ONE master in charge.

If you are aboard a yacht as a guest, then you are not bound by anything other than the ‘good samaritan’ rule. If you are aboard as a ‘helper’ then you are subject to having seamanship decisions scrutinized. If you are in doubt, bring a box of crackers and cheese with you. Let it be known that you brought a snack for everyone. That way you are a ‘paying guest’ which changes everything as far as your status. If you bring lunch aboard, you change the trip from a helper to a passenger. You just have to make it obvious that the food is for everyone, not just the ‘Captain.’


#8

Shewwww… I was sweating my vacation next month on the ol’ cruise ship…

I was responcible for 6000 people…
I couldn’t drink…
I could only be up for 12 hours at a time…

Hell, I got more tonnage than 95% of the guys I hang around(charter boat guys)… I guess they should be paying me!


#9

It is not that simple. If you go out on a friend’s boat and chip in for gas or bring food for all of you that does not make you a passenger. If out did then your friend would need to have a license to run the boat. If you are on a ‘yacht’ that has an actual crew and captain and you are a guest then the distinction is obvious, you are not being paid so you are not crew. If you are on a friends ‘yacht’ with no real crew and he is running it then bringing food as ‘payment’ does not make you a passenger, but having a license does not make you the captain.


#10

[QUOTE=Capt. Schmitt;58473]. . . . but having a license does not make you the captain.[/QUOTE]

Man, that is true in sooooo many ways. . . . . .


#11

[QUOTE=Capt. Schmitt;58473]It is not that simple.[/QUOTE] Actually, yes it is!

If you are on a friends ‘yacht’ with no real crew and he is running it then bringing food as ‘payment’ does not make you a passenger, but having a license does not make you the captain.

Jones Act law makes specific distinction if ‘you pay for passage, you ARE a passenger.’ And if you ‘receive payment you ARE crew.’ Payment can be by (among others) wages, food, fuel, costs of vessel use, or service etc, etc, etc. This is a VERY convoluted topic.


#12

The OP seems to have misunderstood the ‘oath’ when he received a license.

http://www.uscg.mil/nmc/credentials/oath/Merchant_Mariner_Oath.pdf

No where does it say that you must ‘override’ the Captain. This is part of understanding that even though you may have a ‘higher license’ than them, you are NOT the captain of the vessel. I have been working on one ferry on my off time, with 5 members of the crew who are all licensed. I am Captain. They are deckhands. One of the guys has a 1600 ton license. Does that make him a Co-Captain? If I have a 100 ton, and a deckhand has a 1600 ton license does he ‘override my decisions’? Can he? Should he?


#13

[QUOTE=cappy208;58485]The OP seems to have misunderstood the ‘oath’ when he received a license.

http://www.uscg.mil/nmc/credentials/oath/Merchant_Mariner_Oath.pdf

No where does it say that you must ‘override’ the Captain. This is part of understanding that even though you may have a ‘higher license’ than them, you are NOT the captain of the vessel. I have been working on one ferry on my off time, with 5 members of the crew who are all licensed. I am Captain. They are deckhands. One of the guys has a 1600 ton license. Does that make him a Co-Captain? If I have a 100 ton, and a deckhand has a 1600 ton license does he ‘override my decisions’? Can he? Should he?[/QUOTE]

Well, the question that is just screaming for an answer is, “Who cleans the head and empties the ashtrays?”


#14

[QUOTE=cappy208;58484]Jones Act law makes specific distinction …[/QUOTE]

Really? Please provide a citation to that effect.


#15

[QUOTE=Steamer;58491]Really? Please provide a citation to that effect.[/QUOTE]
Ill do some diggin. I was injured on a sailboat when I was a teenager. I recall that one of the points that made mine a Jones act case, was I was fed, and provided for as part of the agreement to go onboard a sailboat during a ‘raceweek’ In effect I was crew. I wasn’t paid in cash, but in grub. I know from subsequent experience, that this is a huge part of Jones Act measure to ascertain if you are crew, or passenger.


#16

[QUOTE=cmakin;58489]Well, the question that is just screaming for an answer is, “Who cleans the head and empties the ashtrays?”[/QUOTE]

A hint… It weren’t me!!


#17

[QUOTE=Steamer;58491]Really? Please provide a citation to that effect.[/QUOTE]
This has the potential to get long, nasty and complicated.
Here goes. This is from the USCG on 6 pak vessels.
“The law is very specific on this subject. Without getting in too deep, here are a few pertinent parts: ―Uninspected passenger vessel‖ means an uninspected vessel of less than 100 gross tons carrying not more than 6 passengers, including at least one passenger for hire. It further defines ―passenger‖ as ―an individual carried on the vessel except; the owner, the master, or a member of the crew engaged in the business of the vessel who has not contributed consideration for carriage and who is paid for on board services.‖ It also defines ―passenger for hire‖ as ―a passenger for whom consideration is contributed as a condition of carriage on the vessel, whether directly or indirectly flowing to the owner, charterer, operator, agent, or any other person having an interest in the vessel. So, what is ―consideration‖? Consideration means an economic benefit, inducement, right, or profit including pecuniary payment accruing to an individual, person, or entity.
Bottom line: If anyone is paying, you are now carrying passengers for hire and can only carry 6 persons on the boat. (Not counting the crew — normally a Master and one deckhand.)”

I forgot the actual legal word, it is ‘Consideration’ This has been determined to mean, bringing food, contributing to fuel, maintaining the vessel, paying dockage, or transient fees, and most other costs associated with operating a vessel.

My adding this to this post was to point out, when traveling on a vessel someone cannot just assume that because they have a license they are ‘in charge’ and if someone wants to make it particularly obvious (legally) all one has to do is to assume the ‘passenger role’ by providing ‘consideration.’

When someone comes aboard a ferry they have paid consideration (the ticket price) thus are a passenger. When someone comes aboard your private yacht and they pay consideration they become a paying passenger! If you have guests aboard and they contribute NOTHING they are simply guests. it is a HUGE change in liability, ‘Captains’) ((Licensed or not)) responsibility, and legal status.

If a ‘Captain’ asked you aboard, and bought all the meals, and the plan was to go on an extended trip (which would demand your participation in the operation of the vessel during the trip you have become an employee of the vessel. Now the relationship has changed.

If you were going on the previous mentioned trip, but showed up with ALL your anticipated meals and supplies, then you remain a guest. Until you are required to participate in the operation of the vessel.

This has totally changed the way I go boating. I NEVER let my passengers (oops, Guests) chip in for fuel, don’t let them pay for dockage, and if they bring food, I always comment in front of everyone that while I thank them for the food (snacks, meals, etc) it was totally unnecessary, but the whole bunch of us would certainly appreciate it.


#18

It will only get “long, nasty and complicated” if you try to make it something it isn’t. This has nothing to do with the Jones Act, the Passenger Vessel Services Act or any other act.

How the CG chooses to nail a “captain” for illegal charters or operations has nothing to do with it either.

If someone on the boat does not “contribute to the function of the vessel or to the accomplishment of its mission, or have a connection to a vessel in navigation that is substantial in both its duration and its nature” then he has no role or responsibility on or to that vessel.

Every couple of years some guy with a 100 ton ticket pipes in with the belief that he has some responsibility or risk to his license when sailing as a passenger on a cruise ship. If you are crew, you know it and you should know what your duties and responsibilities are. Otherwise keep out of the way unless specifically asked by a crewmember to assist.

If the legitimate captain is an idiot, get off the boat, don’t think that you can take over or critique the operation.


#19

[QUOTE=cappy208;58484]…Jones Act law makes specific distinction if ‘you pay for passage, you ARE a passenger.’ And if you ‘receive payment you ARE crew.’ Payment can be by (among others) wages, food, fuel, costs of vessel use, or service etc, etc, etc. This is a VERY convoluted topic.[/QUOTE]

You can fill a couple of law libraries with cases about what is and is not a Jones Act seaman. It may not be as clear as you suggest.


#20

I found this online but cannot find their source material to verify.

"When the new Passenger Vessel Safety Act of 1993 was signed into law,it cleared up the confusion for recreational boat owners over who is a “guest” on board and who is a “passenger for hire.” This being the determination for compliance to either commercial vessel or recreational vessel standards of the U. S. Coast Guard.

Under the new law,a “passenger for hire” is defined for the first time as someone who has contributed “consideration” to the owner,operator,or agent of the vessel as a condition of being taken out on the boat.

The new definition of “consideration” does not include nominal gifts such as food,drink,or any other small item. The seven dollar annual registration fee has not been determined to be “consideration” under the new law. Voluntary sharing of expenses for food,fuel,bait or other supplies for the outing does not constitute “consideration.” "