This morning as I was pouring my coffee I hear engines maneuvering a boat in the fairway. I poke my head up and see a very large (47 feet) catamaran setting up for an approach to the dock in a strong cross wind. They abort their first landing attempt, and back back out with the skipper making a phone call to the harbor office asking for help to get into the spot they assigned him because it is really tight. Everywhere else in the world marina staff would jump to help a boat coming in. After all the last thing they want is for a new customer to play “bumper boat” as he tries to fit into a slip.
Not here… The state of Hawaii “can’t accept the liability to help.”
Really??? It seems to me that marina staff SHOULD have a DUTY to help. They SHOULD be skilled and they are available, and it is THEIR marina.
I know I always get in trouble with my lawyer friends when I say “but it SHOULD be that way.” Well, it SHOULD be that the marina staff sitting on their hands when somebody asks for help SHOULD incur liability for problems resulting from their inaction. Let’s imagine the courtroom scene for a second…
[Lawyer] What did you do when the skipper threw you that line?
[Marina Staff] Nothing, I can’t accept liability for doing anything.
[Lawyer] You saw the boat drifting toward a collision with the other boat?
[Marina Staff] Yes
[Lawyer] And you did nothing?
[Marina Staff] I can’t take the liability of tying off that line.
[Lawyer] So you let the boat crash?
[Marina Staff] It’s not my fault. I didn’t do anything.
Our dock neighbor who used to manage a marina in the Seattle area just shakes his head…
How did they get in to their spot? I “incurred the liability” of helping them handle their lines like any sailor, anywhere in the world, would. Just like any responsible marina would help their customers.
<Morning time rant complete. Back to our regularly scheduled programming!>