Yachting incidents and accidents arise in a whole variety of circumstances, so to keep it simple we will deal with one of the most common examples – colliding with a moored yacht when leaving a marina as can often happen when visitors are not familiar with local conditions, and marinas are crammed full at the height of the season.
In this example, imagine you have been blown down onto another yacht and despite your crews’ best efforts at fending off you have caused some damage to it.
The important thing is to avoid panicking – try to keep everything under control, so that wild applications of throttle and rudder don’t make the situation worse with subsequent collisions with other yachts, and take care to avoid other marina traffic. If to do this you have to exit the marina, call up the marina/harbour control on the radio to let them know what you are doing, and return as quickly as is practical. This will avoid pursuit and arrest in the early stages of the event.
Once you have extracted your yacht and secured it, your first priority is to make sure that no one has been hurt by the impact either on your yacht, the yacht or boat you have collided with or on the pontoon.
Then check whether your yacht has been holed below the waterline in the collision, and is taking on water. If it is, you need someone to quickly arrange with the marina or yard for emergency pumping and lift out at the earliest opportunity, hopefully locally.
Your next priority is to see whether there were any independent witnesses to what happened, perhaps on other yachts. Witnesses disappear from the scene very quickly, and their contact details need to be captured quickly in case a statement is required to support your position in a contentious incident.
Your next task is to visit the other party’s vessel to check their situation. Most owners are very understanding, but naturally owners can be very upset that their pride and joy has been damaged so they may need some time to cool off.
At this early stage do not accept liability or offer apologies as there may be circumstances that will surface later that mean that the other party, the marina facility providers or some other vessel operator were partly liable. For instance a fast ferry wash may have pushed you into them, or their moorings were loose.
Help them as necessary, advise them to check their bilge to make sure they haven’t got a leak, and then arrange a time to meet again to exchange your Yacht Insurance details and contact details.
However the other vessel involved may be unattended, so you will need to check her as best you can externally. Marina staff will also help with this and they inevitably will be quickly on the scene.
Your next visit must be to the harbour or marina office to report the incident. If the other vessel is unattended ask them for her owners contact details. Often the marina staff will notify them, and if they are local, they or their representative will soon appear on the scene.
Subject to local regulations, you may also need to report the incident to the local maritime police or coastguard; the marina/ harbourmaster will advise on this. They will wish to examine your ship’s papers and Yacht Insurance certificate.
So far you have made sure everyone and everything is safe, notified all you need to, and it is now time to return to your yacht to call your Yacht Insurance Company to let them know what has happened.
Admiral Yacht Insurance has an SOS e-mail address which is monitored out of hours to enable incidents to be notified immediately and assistance provided. They will provide useful advice and decide whether they need to appoint a local surveyor to provide advice to their Underwriters and local support to you.
It is very useful for your Yacht Insurance Company to have photos of the damage to your yacht and the other vessel at the earliest opportunity, so if you are able to provide these and send them by e-mail it will help the understanding of your situation in the early stages.
It is important to provide photos showing the general condition of the third party yacht and undamaged areas, and relevant features such as inadequate mooring lines that may have contributed to the damage.
Your Yacht Insurance Company will send you a Yacht Insurance Claim Form to complete and return along with repair estimates when you have them.
If you subsequently receive some correspondence from the third party or their insurer pass it unanswered to your insurer.
Marina and harbour incidents can attract opportunists who will offer to take and pass on money to the absent owner to cover repairs. Clearly this is not a good idea. Similarly don’t be tempted to take money at the time for your repairs if the other party is at fault.
For other incidents, such as groundings and strandings your priorities remain the same; safety of all involved and the vessels, preventing the situation getting worse and getting to a place of safety, reporting, contact capture, and obtaining repair estimates. Good communication all round is key.
If possible involve your Yacht Insurance Company in making and agreeing salvage arrangements or tows, but if not act as if uninsured throughout , mitigating further risks and minimising costs to everyone’s advantage.
If you are looking for a Yacht Insurance quote please visit our Get A Quote page to complete our online yacht insurance quote form and our specialist team will get back to you with your bespoke yacht insurance cover and quotation. Alternatively, you can Contact our Team who will be happy to help answer any specific questions that you may have.