The Story is HERE
That is an interesting one…wonder if they should charge him something?
Laws and traditions vary. The USCG has the authority to declare a voyage as ‘manifestly unsafe’ and compel a yachtsman to abandon his vessel. This ofcourse applies to ships registered in the US and to documented yachts flying the US flag.
If a sailor has already entered a lifeboat, he may not refuse rescue no matter how safe the conditions are when he is found as a lifeboat under international law is not a vessel and the law deems it to be flying no flag at any time irrespective of any actual ensign that may be presently displayed.
Thanks for the background FG…I didn’t know all of that. Very interesting.
During most of the world’s history, “fishing” for ships was viewed as no more morally wrong as fishing for fish. Much early trade and exploration was by long distance voyages because shore-hugging voyages were dangerous due to piracy and loss of sea-room during storms.
Ship wrecks were considered bounty from the sea similar to a beached whale and often English law was concerned more with tax revenue than with saving lives. Indeed, English law held that any human or animal life present aboard the wrecked vessel prevented the goods going to the local townspeople and thus savy sailors often hid themselves on rocky shores so that profit-motivated townspeople would not kill them. The tradition of rescue of vessels in distress on the high seas and on a lee shore is not a very long tradition at all. In English and European ports a vessel would often be very profitable in selling passage to the starving Irish and if the poorly constructed and over-loaded vessel sank just a day out of the port in fair weather…well, they were only Irish aboard so there would be no fuss raised. Often a ships captain was someone who had been a janitor at a dockside warehouse and knew nothing at all of the sea or the operation of ships. One Connecticut ship owner appointed as Captain a 14 year old boy. And usually such acts only came to light when the insurers protested since so many voyages were more profitable if the ship sank than if the cargo ever did reach port. And as for gentlemanly conduct aboard ship, one Southern plantation owner said he saw more flogging in a five week voyage than would have taken place on his plantation in six months! The most remarkable gentlemanly conduct aboard a ship usually took place when the ‘Jolly Roger’ was being flown. Far from a dreaded flag, the passengers and crew aboard a ship were often greatly relieved to see a pirate vessel hoist the Jolly Roger. It meant that the pirates were willing to do business with the vessel and that any Gentlemen who were escorting ladies would be permitted to retain their swords when the pirates boarded the vessel.
Rescue at sea is a comparatively recent concept.
Great historical points Fools Gold. The profits via ship sinking strategy you mention is something I’d never heard about..
Barratry, the intentional destruction of the vessel or its cargo, was a highly profitable way to turn a vessel of declining value into a source of income. Often some vessels were constructed solely as a means of obtaining excessive amounts of cargo insurance, but usually it was simply older vessels that were not competitive and really not at all seaworthy. The 14 year old Connecticut boy with no sea experience who was appointed a ship’s Captain was hardly an isolated example, merely an extreme one. Destruction of ships by the use of false signal lights on English and American shores was quite common as was the murder of shipwrecked sailors. We are often quick to criticize certain foreign nations that are seen to be slow in responding to maritime disasters but it should be remembered that our country’s history is not all that impressive in that regard. Foreign countries have a less intense ‘rescue mindset’. And for quite a good bit of history, so did England and America.
Even the rescue of the Mormon Handcart Caravan about which I posted earlier was actually a rescue operation conducted by the Mormons and not by any civil or military authorities. The attitude in this country was often that those who were in peril held their lives in their own hands and that part of a free country was simply the freedom to go on about ones own business without being compelled in any way to respond to the peril of others. A lot of the westward migration was based on inadequate and misleading information in a variety of books, pamphlets and newspapers. Profits were of higher priority than truth but people were used to fending for themselves in those days and not particularly trustful. Perhaps we have made progress; perhaps not.
For those who blamed the Kims for being insufficiently wary of their route and the information from various sources such as a gas station attendant, it should be remembered that in a foreign land the traveller would have to be very wary. For much of the US westard expansion, travellers could not rely on information. Many wagons would shift their position in a wagon train after leaving a trading post because they feared the trader tipping off the Indians to which were the richest wagons. And the Donner Party was the result of advice given to the travellers about what route to take. In a world where everyone was more wary and distrustful, there would have been survial gear in the Kim’s vehicle and the Kims would have known there would be no SAR efforts on their behalf. We’ve not returned to the days of killing wreck survivors but perhaps a return to the days of greater wariness would have advantages.
“…We’ve not returned to the days of killing wreck survivors but perhaps a return to the days of greater wariness would have advantages. … ”
Often sociologists make comparisons based on wariness: Why no Blacks were victims of the Kent State Massacre by the Ohio National Guard, why most victims of gang related gunplay at public areas such as shopping malls are not gang members because gang members instinctively hit the deck instantly but suburban white middle class shoppers stand there looking around to see where the firecrackers are being set off. Often minority groups travelling are far more wary of their surroundings and far less trusting of unknown persons and unfamiliar roads. I don’t think we should return to the days of travelling on one’s own being a foolhardy danger but questions of survival in unusual circumstances can arise even in this day and age.
The attitude in this country was often that those who were in peril held their lives in their own hands and that part of a free country was simply the freedom to go on about ones own business without being compelled in any way to respond to the peril of others.
FG This is a really interesting historical perspective, and I’d say debate about how to treat personal responsibility vs collective responsibility is still very active here in USA now that we’ve adopted a very proactive “rescue” stance where it’s assumed the Govt will at least make a strong and expensive attempt to help. In the past (e.g. the Donner Party where dozens were stranded only 80 miles from Sacramento), it seems the costs of a rescue were basically expected to be raised by the families/friends of the lost.
Actually, throughout history most ransoms were privately raised and many of the Medieval religious orders involved in ransoming men who had been taken prisoner in the spice trade were often involved in taking prisoners themselves or re-selling them to the Arabs if the family raised too low a sum. One Spaniard in the Spice Trade was taken prisoner, escaped, taken prisoner again and escaped again before his family even knew he was a prisoner.
The American West often had “forts” but none were at all like those depicted in the movies. The official policy was to rely on vigilance rather than a stockade. Most forts were more akin to trading posts. The troops that manned such forts were paid 13 dollars a month but were paid in greenbacks which on the frontier usually were subjected to a 25 percent penalty since frontiersmen used gold dust or coins but not paper. Any housing for officer’s wives was based on the officer’s rank not the wife’s need. Supplies were often unfit for consumption and poorly suited to the region. Most military units had vast territories and rescue missions were rare. Mrs. Page’s survival exploits in Arizona’s heat after having been stoned and shot are impressive. Many men survived chases by hostile elements that lasted over two hundred miles but many Indian attacks were by local Indians who were friendly every Winter and on the war path without warning once Spring arrived. Under such circumstances troops were used for rescues but often after great delay and with poor results.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.