The search for survivors from the sailboats Niña and Cheeki Rafiki ended badly for both, with no lives saved. Yet friends and family of Cheeki Rafiki’s crew fought for a second Coast Guard search and won, with help from a massive political and public relations blitz, while the push for renewing the search for Niña fell on deaf ears in New Zealand.
Two high-profile maritime tragedies have left many with a vexing question:
Are captains bound by law to go down with the ship?
Lore or law: The captain must go down with the ship? Answer: Lore. How about the master being responsible for his passengers and crew? Answer: law.
“The master’s primary responsibility is the safety of his passengers and crew,” says Richard Dein, a retired Coast Guard officer and expert witness who has worked as a master on passenger ferries and towboats.
Responsibility for several recent tragedies rests not only with the captains, but also with the systems that put them in place
Three recent maritime accidents made most of us aware, once again, that going to sea can be a risky business. In fact, the most recent passenger ship accident, in April off South Korea, was the 100th passenger vessel lost since 2002.
Hobart "Hobie" Alter was a visionary who revolutionized surfing and sailing. He was in the first class of sailors inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame in 2011, along with such legends as America’s Cup skipper Charlie Barr, yacht designer Nathanael Herreshoff and solo circumnavigator Joshua Slocum.
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