August 1, 2013

The facts about salvage

IF YOU COME ACROSS a boat in trouble, maritime law says you have to try to save the lives of its crew. But there is nothing to compel you to save the vessel.

If, however, you decide to drag her off the rocks, or put out the fire, or pump her bilges and tow her to a safe harbor, you may qualify for a reward.

Ø Firstly, the boat must have been in grave danger of being lost or badly damaged.

Ø Secondly, you must have volunteered your help.

Ø Thirdly, you must have risked your life or your property in your bid to aid the stricken boat.

Ø And fourthly (and always a little unfairly I’ve always thought) your efforts must be successful. You’ll get nothing if you can’t manage to deliver what’s left of her to a safe harbor, even if you’ve worked on her for days.

How much can you claim for salvage? Admiralty Court awards are usually based on how much your efforts contributed to saving the boat. To qualify at all, your efforts must have been “substantial,” compared with any other help the vessel might have received.

Finally, take no notice of the old fairy tale that handing your towline to another boat entitles you to claim salvage. It’s not automatic.

Today’s Thought
After the verb “To Love,” “To Help” is the most beautiful verb in the world!
— Baroness von Suttner, Ground Arms

“I think you should divorce your husband.”
“What? I’ve lived with that bum for 20 years — and now I should make him happy?”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)

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