1 T E C H N I C A L I N F O R M A T I O N EXCHANGE F O R M A R I N E P R O F E S S I O N A L S Vol. 22 No. 2 July 2006 NEWSNOTES & TRENDS Recently John Adey, ABYC technical director, along with Tom Marhevko and John McKnight from NMMA, met with the USCG to discuss whether the Coast Guard should investigate consumer problems with ethanol. As a result of the meeting, it was agreed that the Coast Guard will fund a study to look at various materials used in boat fuel systems to determine if E10 effects long and short term durability. Bob White, from IMANA Labs was asked to put together a proposal to determine how testing should be performed. After being in the same location for years in a nondescript building miles from the water, the ABYC is moving. According to Skip Burdon, president of ABYC, their original location on Long Island Sound was along the waterfront as it should be for an organization that writes standards for recreational boats. The new location in Eastport, Maryland is only a few miles from the old one, but being back on the waterfront makes it a world away, he says. Nearby are the offices of Weems and Plath, Spinsheet magazine, and a host of maritime attorneys, insurance companies and other related businesses. The new building, which has more space for the ABYC to stretch out a bit and expand their conference areas and library, even includes the rented offices of Farr Yacht Design. Skip says their new building on the water will restore the connection ABYC had with the maritime community and will bring back some of the prestige that a waterfront address gives. Property values had risen so much where the current building was situated, according to Skip, that the difference in price for the new building, coupled with an income stream Continued on page 11 A Case of Liability By Jonathan Klopman, NAMS-CMS And David J. Farrell, Jr., Admiralty Attorney October 19, :30AM: By the time the fire trucks arrived the two yachts were engulfed in a single rolling plume of flame. At daybreak, the charred hulks of both boats had slipped beneath the water and left only a boomed-off oil slick and two charred finger piers as a reminder of the inferno only hours before. The fire was started and completely extinguished in only an hour or two. But the fire itself was only the beginning; nobody had any idea that this was the start of a six-year legal battle that ended in a final showdown in federal court. v Best to begin with the origin and cause. In this case, most of the investigators homed in on the Just Because, a 47 Jersey sport fisherman that was docked just upwind of the vessel we represented, a 43 Viking Princess named Star Skipper. There was heavy, low burning in the vicinity of the shore power cord inlets on the starboard side of the cockpit. This also proved to be the upwind side of the boat. Everyone on scene surmised that the logical cause must have been a poor connection where the cords plugged into the inlet. At this point, the investigation seemed fairly humdrum. The trick was, could This told us that one of the inlet/cord plug connections had been completely consumed, while the other only had melted and fallen to the deck. Hold that thought. we prove it? More specifically, could we prove that the owner of the Just Because knew there was a problem with the shore power cords and failed to act responsibly to prevent the fire? We had a perfectly common cause of the fire, yet had the burden to prove foreknowledge and negligence on the part of the owner. The team assembled to represent the Star Skipper included marine surveyor Jonathan Klopman, admiralty attorney David Farrell, fire investigator and private detective Arthur Joseph Murphy, and electrical expert Robert Loeser. Farrell made it clear that we would have an uphill battle trying to find enough evidence to build a case that the owner had privity or knowledge that a hazard existed before the fire. The immediate problem was finding the direct physical evidence to support our theory of origin and cause. The cockpit of the Just Because was razed. All we were able to find of the shore power cords were some loose male and female connectors and a lump of plastic welded to the cockpit sole. Upon closer inspection, the baked potato of plastic turned out to be the end of one cord and the Continued on page 4
2 ON WATCH Stay Alert to Possible Hazards on Boats and Equipment The information from the Technical Input cards you submit is collated, reviewed, and published in the On Watch column. If one of your surveys supports a previous On Watch report, make sure that you also report it. Conversely, if your survey fails to substantiate a previous On Watch report, send your observations to the Exchange. This will help readers determine whether the alleged defect is an isolated incident or a widespread problem. The Exchange will follow up with any subsequent reports. ALBIN MARINE, EXPRESS TRAWLER, 36, Shock/electrocution hazard. Vessel manufacturer failed to properly ground the Northern Lights generator. Neutral and ground were not connected together at the generator and an AC fault would result in a 120VAC potential on all grounded metal on the vessel. The problem is related to Northern Lights installation instructions, which specify not tying the neutral and ground together. ABYC E states: The generator neutral shall be grounded at the generator. Craig Smith director of marketing for Albin said that Albin builds to ABYC standards, therefore the generator must have been installed by a dealer. When asked if he was aware that dealers were installing generators contrary to ABYC, he stated that he was not a watchdog for dealers and once a product left the manufacturing facility it was out of his hands. He said that Albin has no network to check on the way dealers install equipment. When the Exchange asked if they were concerned that possibly many generators were being installed contrary to ABYC, he changed his mind and stated that the issue needs to be addressed. He suggested the Exchange send the information to him and Ed Winarski, at Albin customer service so the issue could be brought up at the next production meeting. When asked if the Albin factory installed Northern Lights generators, he said that their current vendor was Onan and different vendors were used depending on price and other factors. When asked how Albin installs equipment where the manufacturer s installations instruction are contrary to ABYC, as in this case, he said that ABYC trumps the manufacturer s guidelines and that Albin always follows ABYC standards. BLUEWATER YACHTS, COASTAL CRUISER, late 80 s to early 90 s (Follow-up report). The Exchange published an On Watch in September 2003 regarding rot and deterioration in engine beds and stringers on these vessels. Removal of engine beds on two units found that the wood core did not touch the bottom structure and left a channel for water to accumulate. The FRP covering was thin and not suitable as a structure without good wood core material. A spokesperson for the company, Kathy Swartz, said boats produced before 2002 were made by a different company and they had only received two complaints of rot in stringers. Several surveyors recently commented on similar damage: One surveyor told the Exchange that he has surveyed five Bluewater vessels and can confirm that the stringers are often rotten. Out of the five boats, three had one or more rotten stringers; one had three. Another boat had a very wet deck that flexed dangerously due to a rotted core. Another surveyor found a rotten engine bed stringer in a Coastal Cruiser. Yet another knows of at least a dozen boats with extreme engine bed and stringer rot. Three of the vessels had to have repairs ranging in cost from $12,000 to $15,000. Finally, a fourth surveyor found stringer and frame rot in a 51 model. In this case the yard poured polyurethane into the stringers after the top fiberglass had been cut out and the rotten wood removed. The top of the stringers were then reglassed. The repair cost $40,000. BOMBARDIER RECREATIONAL PROD- UCTS/EVENRUDE, 40- T0 90-HP OUT- BOARD MOTORS, Tiller kits installed on the referenced models may not have been properly assembled at the factory. The inner steering handle may not be seated and the retaining screw may not be installed correctly. This can cause the throttle twist to come loose or pull out of the tiller arm assembly, which can cause loss of throttle and steering control. The affected kits are part number and for 40, 50, and 60 hp engines, and and for 65 (jet), 75, and 90-hp models. All of the kits are blue in color. Bombardier is conducting a voluntary recall and, according to Bombardier, repairs will be made at authorized dealers. Call for more information. LUHRS, 28 OPEN, 28, Poor location of bilge pump through-hull could lead to sinking. There is no vented loop to prevent back siphoning. Luhrs issued a letter to owners warning that an anti-siphon break device must be installed immediately if this configuration (shown in the photo above) was used. Luhrs also issued a service bulletin (#06-28Open-01) to their dealers; affected boats have HINS from #101 to 170. Luhrs will pay for the repair at the nearest Luhrs facility and will make Continued on page 3 EXCHANGE Vol. 22 No. 2 July 2006 Publisher William M. Oakerson Editor Robert A. Adriance, Jr. Associate Editor Chuck Fort Graphic Artist Nancy K. Roberts Circulation Lauren Foster/Nelo Karimi 2006 EXCHANGE Material printed here represents the observations, opinions, and theories of marine professionals and is published in this trade report for review by other marine professionals only. It is not a defect notice and does not express the opinion of the publisher. The accuracy of the information is not warranted by the publisher or its subscribers. Reprinting or publication of any information appearing in Exchange is prohibited without the express written consent of the publisher. Contact Exchange, 880 South Pickett St., Alexandria, VA Call (703)
3 Bottom Paint Halos It is that time of year when we start to get phone calls regarding halos around through hulls and other metal objects on the bottoms of vessels. The halos are usually a discoloration/degradation of cuprous oxide (copper) bottom paint. The calls come from all facets of the boating community: surveyors, yard personnel, boat owners, and insurance companies. The callers typically believe the halos are a result of serious electrolysis activity, which is not true. There is no such thing as electrolysis, as the term is applied to vessels. What people usually mean is electrolytic or stray current corrosion. While stray current electricity from a direct current producing device or system can cause halos and severe corrosion, it is not the usual cause of the halos. Cuprous oxide paint is generally recognized as non-conductive, in contrast to the old copper particle paint; however, under some circumstances, it is conductive and will permit electrons to flow into the paint coating. When the electrons flow into the bottom paint coating, the electrons are attempting to cathodically protect the copper in the paint. When this simple process occurs, it scares the hell out of the boat owner. The halos can range from a couple of inches to up to a couple of feet in diameter. The effects of the electrons flowing into the bottom paints can vary greatly. In some cases, the paint is simply discolored in random patterns. In others, the paints have turned slimy around the metal objects. This problem was so severe with one brand of paint that the manufacturer pulled it off the market. Where are the electrons coming from? Why are some boats affected while others are not, even though they used the same paint? First, the problem has nothing to do with the paint itself. The anodes on a vessel zinc, aluminum or magnesium in addition to Impressed Current Cathodic Protection (ICCP) Systems, such as the Mercathode Systems found on Mercury stern drives, are the source of the electrons. The anodes and ICCP Systems are formulated and designed to provide electrons. It is the supply of electrons that provides the Cathodic Protection for underwater metal components. Please keep in mind that the halo problem came to light with the introduction of low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) type of cuprous oxide paints. Most paint manufacturers will tell you that the cuprous oxide bottom paints will only withstand a cathodic protection voltage of about volts DC. Zinc is volts DC. Aluminum is -1.1 volt DC. The Mercury ICCP Systems have a designed output voltage of -1.0 volts DC that is necessary to cathodically protect the aluminum stern drives. If the bottom paint is applied directly to underwater metal, there is a very good chance that halos will occur because the conductive path to the metal has not been eliminated. Darker bottom paints are more likely to create halos because red and black paints contain a great deal more carbon. Carbon is conductive. Combine the carbon with the cuprous oxide and you have a much greater chance of electrons flowing into the paint coating and destroying it. The simple solution to the halo problem is to remove all of the paint from underwater metals. Properly prepare and prime the metals and then apply about three coats of epoxy paint. If done properly, you will not experience halos, no matter what color paint is used. Paul Fleury Marine Services Ft. Washington, Maryland ON WATCH, from page 2 arrangements to have the installation done elsewhere if necessary. MAVERICK BOAT COMPANY, HEWES REDFISHER, 16, Fuel gauge inaccurate to the point of being useless and shows full when nearly half empty. Owner is concerned because the inaccuracy may leave him stranded in remote locations. Owner also says that other Hewes owners report the same thing on the Hewes forum. Skip Lyshon, a representative for Maverick Boat Company said that it s the nature of the beast. He said that customers want the largest tank possible and the only place that will fit a large tank (30 gallons) is between the stringers. The tank is long and narrow, he said, which means the gauge will read full for a long period of time. He went on to say that all boaters will tell you there is no such thing as an accurate marine fuel gauge. He recommended that people who use their boats in remote areas should make it a common practice to top off the tank before every trip. Another option, he said is to install a fuel flow meter such as the Navman Maverick will not pay for such a device. MONTEREY BOATS, 350 SPORT YACHT, 35, GFI-protected 120 VAC outlet is not ignition protected though the back of the outlet is exposed to the gasoline engine and fuel tank compartment. There is a possibility of igniting explosive vapors. The USCG issued a recall (# 05R0814S) for this vessel model. According to the manufacturer, approximately 30 of these boats were built with non-ignition protected GFI s. Montery will replace the receptacle at its expense.
4 LIABILITY, from page 1 inlet melted together. This told us that one of the inlet/cord plug connections had been completely consumed, while the other only had melted and fallen to the deck. Hold that thought. Just Because was wired for two 30-amp lines that fed into a Y connector to 50-amp shore service. Both cords were brand new; the Y connector was older. When inspecting the connections where the cords plugged into the Y, one of the cord/y connections had matching burn marks on the black, or hot lead. This didn t tell us much, as the overheating damage could have occurred after the fire began. However, the second set of connections revealed burn marks on the hot and neutral connections of the Y with no corresponding burn marks on the cord. The first set of connections confirmed that both sides of the cord/connection set must show signs of melting if the contacts heat up. Therefore, the Y connector essentially served as a record of prior overheating. This explained why the cords had been replaced recently. We suspected that the owner had noted burn marks at the cords and so replaced them, yet he failed to replace the Y connector and the inlets. When asked, the owner said that he had replaced the cords only for cosmetic reasons. It was this cagey response that told us both that our hunches were right and that now he was on to us. And we were definitely on to him. When asked, the owner said that he had replaced the cords only for cosmetic reasons. It was this cagey response that told us both that our hunches were right and that now he was on to us. And we were definitely on to him. Bob Loeser had spent decades poring over electrical systems for signs of potential problems. He was able to confirm that the loaded leg of the shore power cords would have had no problems so long as the contacts were in good shape. However, poor surface contacts and the resultant resistance could lead to signifi- cant overheating, but not enough to trip the 50-amp main breaker on the dock pedestal. Despite our increasing confidence that we had a solid case, fire investigator Murphy warned that our job wasn t done until we ruled out all other possible causes for the fire. As it turned out, Murphy s insistence on meticulously sifting through the debris to record and rule out every potential source of fire was instrumental in fending off a counterattack that the fire actually started on the Star Skipper. Skipping ahead several years to when we finally presented our case in court, David Farrell was able to show that his questioning of the owner during deposition revealed that he had not used the plastic locking rings on the shore power cords to screw them securely to the inlet. Further probing revealed that the owner, while an experienced boater and director of a large electrical contracting firm, was relatively cavalier about how he dealt with his power cords. Although he granted that the new cordsets came with warnings and instruction booklets, he couldn t remember reading them. It s hard to fathom how such a capable, successful person could overlook such obvious problems. You wouldn t use Continued on page 10 Proving the Case in Court By David J. Farrell, Jr. Owners of Just Because initiated a lawsuit to avoid blame, arguing that the fire started on their friends Star Skipper, or alternatively, if it did start on Just Because, under federal law their liability should be limited to the zero dollar value of Just Because after the fire since they did nothing negligent to cause it. In re Rhoten, 397 F.Supp.2d 151 (D. Mass. 2005). In order to prevail in the case, we had to prove three things. First, which boat did the fire originate on? If the fire originated on Star Skipper, the owners of Just Because could obviously not be held liable. Out of eight eyewitnesses who testified at trial, only one thought the fire started on Star Skipper. That witness initially provided contradictory observations to the fire department and turned out to be a friend of the Rhotens and was thus discredited. All of the fire experts, with one exception, agreed that the fire started at the shore power connection on Just Because. The sole exception wasn t hired to look at the boats until two years after the fire. He acknowledged on crossexamination that the debris was pretty much disheveled. That expert s co-worker even admitted that the fire started on Just Because. The judge agreed. Second, did the owners of Just Because have prior knowledge of the condition (shore power cord) that started the fire? The judge sifted through the forensic evidence and concluded the owners closed their eyes to obvious problems with their shore power cords. Just Because had frequently tripped the dockside circuit breaker over the last two seasons, yet the owners ignored this warning; retired cords stored on board Just Because had burn marks at both the inlet and shore ends; and the remains of the inlet/cord connection where the fire started showed pre-existing overheating damage. Third, we had to prove that the lost evidence was important. All the experts, including the owners, wanted to dissect that evidence to look at the electrical contacts and determine if a locking ring was in use. The judge found it highly questionable that the owners lost the remains of one of their two inlet/cord connections immediately after their depositions. Losing evidence, together with their unconvincing demeanor at trial on cross examination proved to the judge that the owners did not use locking rings at the inlets and if they had followed the manufacturer s instructions the fire would not have started.
5 The International Association of Marine Investigators I A M I N E W S N E W S L E T T E R A Message from the President Dear Fellow Members: As we close the second quarter of 2006, I want to commend IAMI members for their continued dedication to our organization and its mission. With some quarterly organizational reports, I ve noticed that the emphasis is on the achievements of individuals. The key to success at IAMI, however, has always been participation. As I have said many times, fighting marine theft and fraud requires sharing ideas and information. It involves many individuals working together. IAMI s theme for 2006 is to get involved. IAMI s membership is growing. IAMI s influence in the marine community is expanding. And while there have been stumbling blocks, managing and negotiating stumbling blocks is how human progress is measured. IAMI is not the Board of the Directors nor is it the regional coordinators or any individual member. It is a network of members working together to put the bad guys out of business. Your most valuable contribution to IAMI is to become involved in shaping its future. I urge each of you to contact me so that IAMI can begin using your ideas and talents more effectively. Also this year: IAMI has been working to improve our service to members by streamlining our administrative procedures. You will soon experience one of the improvements when you renew your membership; a new member database program and member ID card system has been implemented. This new system is a multi-functional system that can be used not only for tracking membership but also during annual conferences, outreach training seminars, and the Certified Marine Investigator program. IAMI and several other organizations including NASBLA are continuing to fight for the implementation of a 17-character HIN by the US Coast Guard. IAMI Committee Chairman and Past President Pat Rowland has been working with other IAMI members, including the Past President of NASBLA, Fred Messmann, to lead the charge in seeing this issue become a reality. Recently the USCG has requested another cost-benefit study before they will consider a format change. This is where we need your help! The committee needs assistance in collecting and compiling statistical data to support the needed format change. Please contact Pat Rowland or Fred Messmann if you can help. Let s not give up the fight to see a 17-character format become reality and remember these words by Sir Winston Churchill; Sure I am this day we are masters of our fate that the task which has been set before us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are not beyond our endurance. As long as we have faith in our own cause and an unconquerable will to win, victory will not be denied us. Have a safe summer! Sincerely, Sam I. Bean, CMI-1, President
6 News from the Directors From Mike Smith, 1st VP: The confidential hull identification number (HIN) is about to become a reality. Donna Conick with National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has been working diligently to get the system automated. By the time this goes to print over 100 confidential HIN s will be in the database and available to law enforcement. This project has been a personal priority of mine as well as one of IAMI s goals. This will make it much easier for an investigator to jump on NICB s website and find the information they need. If you have confidential HIN locations, please send them to Donna at The confidential HIN number database is for your use; please make an effort to contribute. I have also been busy with the 2007 annual conference. Yes, it is already time to start planning the next one. Your Board of Directors is working to bring you the best training we can offer both at the annual conference as well as at regional meetings around the world. Ronnie Rowland has been doing a great job since taking over the IAMI Headquarters duties. I have had several comments that membership packets and information has been getting out in a timely manner. When problems are experienced, she corrects them quickly. Good job Ronnie. I have been pleased with the new Board of Directors who have had the attitude What can I do? It has been easy getting projects completed when so many people want to help. Thanks to all of the members who have been working hard for IAMI. From Captain Ronald Morris: There are several different issues that we are dealing with in Louisiana since the 2005 hurricane season. First, we again introduced a title bill in our state legislature that died without becoming law. It would be a great tool, since we have to deal with 25,000 to 50,000 boats due that were displaced last year by Rita and Katrina. I think lawmakers were looking at it as a tax and not a proof of ownership. This isn t the end, however. I am sure we will try again and maybe next time we can get it passed Second, we had to re-bid our state contract to deal with the displaced boats; the contractor who won the original contract was unable to secure the correct bond. The winning bid has been finalized and we should be able to begin picking up boats, trailers and cars within a few weeks. The third issue is boats and trailers leaving our state. NASBLA published an advisory to be aware of used boats from the hurricane states. Boats are being sold without paperwork or with incorrect paperwork through online auctions and it will be a nightmare for the new owner (victims) to obtain proof of ownership. Most of these boats have been damaged, which is not always made clear at the auctions. The National Information Crime Bureau (NICB) has set up a database for owners to check the history of any vessel they may purchase that might have been affected by these hurricanes. They can do this by searching the NICB website, and entering the boat s hull identification number. Note that all vessels scrapped for salvage are included in the database. It is, however, a tool that can reduce fraud. (If a boat deal is too good to be true, it usually is.) Are we ready for this year s fifth season? (On the gulf coast we have five seasons: fall, winter, spring, summer and hurricane season) I think so; we have been meeting and planning with all of our state and federal agencies to work on all of the problems we had last year. I know a lot of you are wondering about my personal hurricane plan for my family. We keep enough food and bottled water to last for three days. I d like to put these supplies in our car, drive to Nebraska and stay until Halloween. Unfortunately, like most coastal residents, we will be staying here. From Eric Lundin, Training Committee: Congratulations to all IAMI members who have become involved with the association as new regional and state coordinators/ assistant coordinators. Thanks especially to Bill Dobson for leading the charge! Y all have been busy thinking about training in your various areas here in the U.S. and around the world. And as a result we are looking at probable training opportunity in the Illinois/Michigan area. (Thank you, Ken Fligelman and the new state coordinators!) As I write this, the Southern Region Seminar is about to get underway in Shreveport, Louisiana, thanks to the dedication of instructors Bill Dobson, Jimmy Laird, Ron Morris, Earl Joyner and Jerry Simon; further potential training opportunities for 2006 are being considered in Connecticut, Virginia, and New Mexico! If you are interested in attending, assisting, or setting up your own training seminars, please contact your State/Regional Coordinators, Bill Dobson, or me (860) ). IAMI also continues to train more individuals around the world, most recently in Sweden. The USCG MPOC classes in South Carolina, and at the Boating and Water Safety Summit in Florida. Don t forget to send your training information (subjects taught, what group, where and when) to me for the Annual Report. And, we re continuing to plan for the 2007 Annual Seminar in Florida. Send me, or any board member, your requests for topics to be taught From Capt. William C. Tallman, Jr. CMI Resolution And By-Laws Committee: If any member has changes that need to be addressed in the By-Laws, please submit them to me for presentation at the mid-year meeting. Also, it is not too early to submit your resolutions for the 2007 conference in Panama City, Florida. I can be Continued on next page 6
7 News from the Directors (Continued) contacted at WCT Maritime Service, , fax , or From Bill Dobson, CMI, Regional Coordinator Chairman, U.S. & Caribbean, and Membership Committee: Our goal for is to have two state coordinators, one from law enforcement and the other from the private sector, to serve their home state. Larger states such as Florida, Texas and California, may require more than two. These are important positions and, thus far, I am happy to report that 78 IAMI members have offered their services. We still have holes to fill in 12 states and I would like to hear (via at amtus.com) from anyone who is interested in stepping forward. Some of the responsibilities of the position are to serve as a liaison between membership and IAMI headquarters, and give quarterly reports to the regional coordinator on your state s membership recruitment and training classes. These reports will be passed along to the chairperson. Another goal is to have every member sign on to the new IAMI website This is a great way to disseminate information on issues affecting IAMI. Please check it out; increased participation benefits you and is important for IAMI s continued growth. The newly redesigned regions of the U.S. should be posted on the website in the near future. The assignments of the regional coordinators and state directors have been made to fit the new regions. The South Central Regional training and CMI testing is ongoing, most recently in Shreveport, Louisiana this past June. Regional training is one of the greatest benefits of IAMI, so if you or your colleagues are interested in some CEU s and a certificate, I suggest you get involved NOW by setting up a regional training seminar. Please contact me, Eric Lundin, or any member of the Board of Directors and we will be happy to assist in bring training to your area. From Martin Aberg, International Committee: The Swedish Insurance Investigation Unit, Larmtjanst, boat theft register has been active since We have over 35,000 stolen objects, most of which were stolen in Scandinavia, in our database. By midsummer this year we will be connected with our colleagues in Norway and the Netherlands. The Norwegian Bank and Insurance Federation, FNH, will start registering all boats stolen in Norway with a value over $20,000. Boats and marine engines with a lower value will be registered by the Norwegian marine police in our database. The VbV, Insurance Bureau Vehicle Crime will start registering all stolen boats in the Netherlands. Both FNH and VbV get information from the insurance industry in their respective countries as well as from the police. Larmtjanst database will then cover boat theft in three countries in Europe. Larmtjänst also receive information about stolen boats from the Police in Denmark, the marine police and marine claim service and Germany, and C Claims in Great Britain. The database is available for all law enforcement units and all insurance companies, marine surveyors and others professionals who combat marine crime in Europe. To access the database, you must first apply for a password. Enter Larmtjanst homepage (www.larmtjanst.se) and in the left lower corner you find where to apply for access. Only Larmtjanst, FNH, Norwegian Marine Police and VbV will be able to register and change data in the database and they are also responsible for the information they have registered. The database informs you who are responsible for certain information. All others with access can only search for information. Law enforcement units in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Denmark and Germany are already using this database for information. Perhaps IAMI should have a similar database in a closed area just for members on the IAMIMarine.org homepage. We all are looking for stolen boats world wide, and it would be a good idea to have a database available for all of us. Now Larmtjanst already has this kind of register so we do not have to reinvent the wheel. If there is anybody interested in getting access to search in the database, please send me an larmtjanst.se). Also, if there are any IAMI members who would like to register their stolen boats, please let me know. We would then have to discuss it with our owners, FNH and VbV. From Timo Kovanen, Turku police force in Finland: I have known Martin Åberg for six years and we have worked together on a few stolen boat cases. We have also exchanged information on marine crime in Sweden and Finland. In spring of 2005 Martin and his colleagues visited the Police Department of Turku. During the visit they had a training session about HIN numbers and other marine theft basics. Martin told me about IAMI and its aims. As a police officer, I became interested and a couple weeks later got an invitation to an IAMI Europe seminar in Germany (Villingen-Schwenningen). During this seminar I made some contacts with other police officers who have proven to be helpful in my daily work. I decided to join IAMI Europe. This year I took part in the 16th annual training seminar in Virginia Beach. During the seminar, I promised Martin that I would hold some training sessions in Finland. The marine crime of today isn t just local anymore but has become widely spread across country borders all over the world. I believe this organisation can do a lot to help the fight against organized crime. But to make progress we have to be active and get involved. 7
8 Moving Ahead Toward a Central Repository of HIN Information for Marine Investigators By Donna Conick, Insurance and HIN Database Committees I have been working closely with Lt. Colonel Mike Smith, Assistant Commissioner, MO State Water Patrol, regarding the secondary HIN database. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has entered about 70% of the secondary HIN information we received from IAMI and we are hoping to have the remaining information entered by mid June. Since the database information is proprietary and confidential, it is available to law enforcement only. I strongly encourage law enforcement personnel who require access to secondary HIN information to obtain the necessary access request forms by contacting NICB s Technical Support Group at or To obtain access to ISO ClaimSearch, requires the following: First, the ISO ClaimSearch Law Enforcement Authorization Request form must be completed and returned to NICB. In addition to the Authorization Request form, the agency must include a formal request for access to the secondary HIN information. Once this information is provided, NICB will provide a confidentiality agreement, which is required prior to any agency or users being authorized access to the secondary information. ISO Claimsearch will allow the user to search a HIN for manufacturer shipping and assembly information, insurance company claim records, or purged NCIC information. NICB s SVIN file, which is accessible through ISO ClaimSearch, contains secondary HIN locations and other identifying information necessary for boat and personal watercraft identification. Currently the NICB receives personal watercraft shipping and assembly information from Yamaha, Honda, and Kawasaki and we are hoping to establish partnerships with more personal watercraft and boat manufacturers to assist with marine investigations. In addition, I would like to remind everyone to take advantage of NICB s vehicle and watercraft Hurricane database on our public website at IAMI Europe Ninth Annual Conference Scandia Ariadne Hotel Stockholm Sweden September 27 28, 2006 Stockholm: One of the most beautiful cities in Europe. For more information, contact Martin Aberg: Telephone: (U.S. 011) Fax number (011)
9 Funtime vs. Gonzales A Case Study In Cooperation And Coordination Between Law Enforcement And The Marine Investigator Industry By Mark D. Holmes, Esq In Funtime v. Gonzales, Case No. CV PCT-PGR, a case that arose from a boating accident on Lake Havasu, law enforcement officials and marine industry investigators worked together to find the facts and preserve the relevant evidence so that that an innocent party, Funtime Boat Rental, the company that rented the boat involved in the accident, could be exonerated of fault and liability. As is common with accidents on Lake Havasu, which straddles California and Arizona, several law enforcement agencies were involved: the Mohave County Sheriff s Department, the Arizona State Parks Department; the Lake Havasu City Policy Department. The officers coordinated their efforts to interview witnesses. Investigators from the marine industry also became involved. Marine Claims Services, Inc. (MCS), a third party administrator for Funtime s insurer, sent Captain William Dials of Tri State Marine Surveyors, Inc. to investigate. Captain Dials and attorneys acting on behalf of Funtime were able to marshal enough evidence to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the United States District Court in Arizona that Funtime was not at fault in the accident. The court s decision was extremely important, not only to Funtime, but to the entire recreational marine industry; it is the first recreational marine decision from a court in the Western part of the United States generally within the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 20 years. The Accident On March 23, 2004, Corrin Osborne, a college student on spring break, rented a 26-foot pontoon boat from Funtime. Osborne and her party of female friends were sober and well behaved. Before Funtime would allow Osborne to rent the Vessel, however, it required that she execute a boat rental agreement. Nowhere in the agreement was there any requirement that the person renting a vessel provide insurance. Osborne signed the agreement and went out with her friends for a day on Lake Havasu. Later that day, at approximately 5:00 p.m., she returned to the launch area with the vessel. So far, so good. The next day, Osborne again appeared early in the day to take the pontoon boat out with her friends. Again, all were sober and well behaved. As part of his investigation, Captain Dials noted that all four gates on the Vessel had decals installed by the manufacturer warning passengers to remain inside the rails and gates whenever the vessel is underway. Later that day, however, the Mohave County Sheriff s Department informed Robert Ballard, the CEO of Funtime, that there had been a serious accident aboard the vessel. The Sheriff s Deputies, who were on scene, advised that one of the passengers, Kimberly Gonzales, had been seriously hurt when she fell overboard and was struck by the propeller. The Accident Site Investigation Upon arriving at the accident scene, the Sheriff s Deputies and Ranger Rivado of the Arizona State Parks Department took numerous statements from witnesses. They learned that Osborne had taken the rented pontoon boat to Copper Canyon with several friends. Before leaving, she offered a group of people, most of whom were intoxicated, a ride back to the London Bridge area. Osborne has been driving for only a few minutes when she allowed her friend, Crystal Vanillo, to drive. While Vanillo was driving, two of the people Osborne picked up, Kimberly Gonzalez and Tanner Wakefield, began dancing on the bow, outside the gate. Osborne was also seated outside the gate, watching Gonzales and Wakefield. As the vessel approached the Thompson Bay No Wake buoy line (before reaching the London Bridge area), Vanillo eased up on the throttle, and Gonzalez and Wakefield, who were still dancing, fell into the water. Wakefield fell to the side but Gonzalez fell over the stem and was struck by the propeller. At the scene, Deputy John Kole of the Mojave County Sheriff s Department performed field sobriety tests that showed Vanillo was impaired. Deputy Kole arrested Vanillo, had her cited for felony endangerment and other misdemeanor counts. She was released on bail. The Vessel And Its Appurtenances Immediately after Bob Ballard learned of the accident, he contacted his insurance agent/broker to report the incident. Ballard s insurance agent contacted the program managers of Western Marine Insurance who referred the loss notice to David Giddings of MCS. Giddings then sent one of his own investigators to interview witnesses, and appointed and dispatched Captain William Dials to inspect the vessel, develop evidence, and work with MCS investigators to assess Funtime s and the vessel s role in the accident. As part of his investigation, Captain Dials noted that all four gates on the Vessel had decals installed by the manufacturer warning passengers to remain inside the rails and gates whenever the vessel is Continued on page 10
10 FUNTIME VS. GONZALES from page 10 underway. Each label was bright yellow with a black triangle and an exclamation mark on the left side. To the right of the triangle, the following was printed in heavy black letters: AVOID PERSONAL INJURY STAY INSIDE DECK RAILS (GATES) WHILE BOAT IS UNDERWAY Captain Dials then went through the vessel thoroughly to determine that it was in proper working order and had all of the required equipment. Working with Giddings and MCS investigators, Captain Dials wrote a report that detailed his findings. Captain Dials then worked with Funtime s attorneys and MCS to piece together (1) the relevant facts and (2) an analysis of the fault of the various parties in causing or contributing to Ms. Gonzales injuries. The Exoneration/ Limitation Action As a result of the detailed investigation into the accident, Funtime, through its attorneys and in coordination with MCS and its investigators, filed an action in federal district court in Arizona, wherein Funtime requested exoneration or limitation under the Limitation of Liability Act, 46 U.S.C. Section 181 et seq. ( LOLA ). By way of background, a LOLA action is a uniquely maritime action that a vessel owner can bring in federal court to request that the Court declare the owner innocent of any wrongdoing in connection with a marine casualty, or limit his liability to the value of the vessel. After numerous pleadings had been filed with the court, including the Accident Report developed by the law enforcement officials and a lengthy declaration by Captain Dials detailing his investigation of the facts and analyzing the faults of all of the parties involved, the United States District Court exonerated Funtime of any fault in connection with the accident. It is important to note that the court frequently cited to the record developed by law enforcement personnel, and was also persuaded by Captain Dials fault analysis. The Funtime is a good example of what happens when law enforcement and the marine investigative industries work together to gather facts and evidence. Given the number of recreational boats and boating accidents, such cooperation is essential. * Mark Holmes is a partner with the firm of McKasson Klein & Holmes LLP, 600 Anton Blvd., Suite 650, Costa Mesa, California P: ; F: ; mkhlaw.com. LIABILITY, from page 4 an extension cord with burn marks on your Christmas tree for fear of burning your house down. Why would you use burned shore power components to carry heavy amperage loads (air conditioner, refrigerator, hot water heater, central vacuum, engine block heaters, etc.) onto your boat? He was using the reasonably negligent owner defense. As it turned out, the court didn t buy it. We were awarded subrogation damages of $670,000 and defeated the claim the fire started on Star Skipper. In a 15 page ruling, In re Rhoten, 397 F.Supp.2d 151 (D. Mass. 2005), the judge found that boat owners do have a certain standard of responsibility and cannot turn a blind eye to potential safety issues: The [owners ] failure to read the instructions not only caused an improper assembly and the failure to use the proper locking device. It also contributed to their failure to examine the cords and the inlets on a regular basis and thereby detect the discoloration on the female ends of the 30 amp shore power cords that was present before the fire occurred. One other frustration during the case was the mysterious disappearance of the melted power cord plug/inlet (remember the baked potato?) shortly after the owner was deposed. The defense hoped that this lack of evidence would be lost in the fog of battle and would only serve to weaken our case. As it turned out, losing the evidence compounded their problems at trial. The court s opinion underscores the need to preserve evidence after any boating loss. As it turned out, losing the evidence compounded their problems at trial. The court s opinion underscores the need to preserve evidence after any boating loss. The judge found it highly questionable that the boat owner lost the remains of one of his two inlet/cord connections immediately after the deposition. All the experts, including the defense, wanted to dissect that evidence to look at the electrical contacts and determine if a locking ring was in use. The judge didn t let the owner get away 10 with it. Losing evidence, together with their unconvincing demeanor at trial on cross examination proved to the judge that they did not use locking rings at the inlets and if they had followed the manufacturer s instructions the fire would not have started. There were numerous lessons from this decision. First and foremost, the court has the willingness and stamina to hear cases that involve technical detail so long as the presentation demonstrates as thorough an approach to ruling out other potential causes as it does in supporting its own theory. Secondly, there may be critical evidence somewhere on the boat even though is has completely burned and sunk. Spoliation of this evidence is a very real and ever present hazard during the course of an investigation. You lose it, and the court will use that as ammo against your case. Finally, boat owners cannot protect themselves with a cloak of indifference. Manuals are written to be read. * David Farrell, a maritime trial lawyer, has an office in Chatham, Massachusetts and can be reached through www. sealaw.org Jonathan Klopman runs his surveying business out of Marblehead, Massachusetts. He can be tracked down through
11 NEWSNOTES & TRENDS NEWSNOTES, from page 1 from the rented offices, made the decision too good to pass up. The new building is currently being remodeled and the ABYC plans to be open for business on June 7, and hold a dedication ceremony on July 25, The new address is 613 Third St. Suite 10, Annapolis, MD The new phone number is: (410) ; fax, (410) Most surveyors at one time or another have felt uncomfortable surveying a boat hanging in slings. In June of this year, SAMS surveyor Tom Benton was inspecting a 20-foot powerboat when one of the slings broke. Tom was instantly struck and thrown to the side. He was taken to the hospital with four broken ribs, a broken clavicle (eight places), and a punctured lung. After he was released, Tom told the Exchange that this should be a wakeup call for surveyors. As he said, It s easy to get complacent. How many times have we walked underneath a 40- or 50-foot boat hanging in slings? When a sling breaks, he says, you don t have any time to get out of the way. Even small boats can be deadly. Tom says he ll never inspect another boat that isn t blocked and properly shored. He is likely to lose the entire surveying season recovering. The good news: Tom s expected to make a full recovery. As a side note, Bob Kramer at the Travelift Corporation said that the straps they use are equipped with a red tracer thread near the surface that indicate wear. If the threads are visible, the strap has to be replaced. A new law firm, catering to the maritime industry is being opened in Pittsburgh by attorneys Rich Ogrodowski and Frederick Goldsmith. Goldsmith and Ogrodowski also are the publishers of AmiraltyUpdate, the e-newsletter on developments in U.S. Coast Guard regulations, and state and federal court decisions of interest to the commercial and recreational marine industry. For more information, visit their website: www. golawllc.com. Robert Kress, a mechanical engineer and naval architect, has joined Davis Consulting Group, a division of Davis and Company. Robert was brought on for his experience in electrical and propeller product engineering, according to Greg Davis, president. Robert has served as a director and technical board member of the ABYC and is also a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) and serves on the SNAME Power Craft Panel. More details are available at Boatbuilders have their fingers crossed that congress will amend the 1998 Vessel Hull Design Protection Act in hopes that it will finally give them protection against hull-design theft. According to Cindy Squires, NMMA s regulatory attorney, the current anti-splashing law fails to give adequate protection because it bundles hull and deck design together, which makes competing models more similar than if it just included hull design. In a recent lawsuit in which the Maverick Boat Company sued Pro-Line and Blazer for copying the hull design of its 22-footer, the courts found that there was no infringement, even though the appellate court suggested that the design may have been copied. The court also found that Maverick had failed to register its design in a timely fashion. Then, after registering a new version, Maverick s design was invalidated because the new hull was not substantially different from the previous version. Squires says that a proposed amendment would protect hull, deck, plug, and mold separately. A builder s registration under current law is valid for 10 years. The National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) has asked the USCG to address propeller strike injuries in recreational watercraft. NBSAC wants the USCG to develop an education package that would be given to renters of motorboats for the 2007 season. The Coast Guard is also working separately on legislation requiring mandatory education for boat renters. In addition, NBSAC recommended the Coast Guard begin a rule-making process that would mandate engine cutoff switches and cut off links that would stop a boat in the event an operator was thrown overboard. It also asked the Coast Guard to begin another rule-making process that would require an operator to kill a boat s engine when the boat is in close proximity to a swimmer, such as in boarding a ladder or swim-step. The Coast Guard is also encouraged to begin researching propeller guard safety, drivability, and efficacy. All of these measures stem from 11 the number of fatalities involving propellers (31 in 2004). Propeller accidents (186) rank ninth in reported boating accidents. Trends How is the 2006 year shaping up for boats sales? Disappointing is the word that s been heard in many dealerships. But since the first quarter (ended March 31) accounts for only 13 percent of annual boat sales, there is still optimism for the second quarter, which accounts for 35 percent of sales and for the third quarter which adds another 30 percent. Another reason analysts will be watching the second and third quarters is because that s when boats priced under $100,000 are concentrated. According to A.G. Edwards and Sons, boat sales in the Great Lakes, Northeast, and Northwest have been weak and California was slower than expected due to wet stormy weather. The good news, according to an analyst for RBC Capitol Markets, is that the high-end market (boats larger than 30 feet) continues to strengthen. One reason for optimism for large-boat sales is the relative strength of the equity markets. A new opportunity for surveyors, or a new liability? A company called Boat- Chek has a website that lists boats for sale with a twist. The listing fee (currently $129) also includes a write up, pictures, and a review done by a NAMS or SAMS surveyor. The company s website (boat-chek.com) says that the review will provide the general impression of the kind of maintenance the boat has undergone and an idea of its overall condition and its equipment. The review takes from a half hour to an hour for a surveyor to do and is, according to the company, a snapshot of the general condition of the boat, used to help boat buyers narrow down their search. A quick perusal of the website show that the reviews seem to deliver just that. The review is brief, but gives enough information for a longdistance buyer to decide whether or not to seriously consider the boat. Many NAMS and SAMS surveyors have been contacted by the company, which pays $100 per review. Some surveyors see it as a tool to build business (the hope is that the review will be followed by Continued on page 12
12 August 2, 2006 American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) Advanced Electrical Troubleshooting course will be held in Mystic, Connecticut. Contact ABYC at (410) or August 8-11, 2006 American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) Marine Systems Certification will be held in Mystic, Connecticut. Contact ABYC at (410) or August 15-18, 2006 American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) Electrical Certification Course will 2006 Planning Calendar Of Educational & Association Events be held in Annapolis, Maryland. Contact ABYC at (410) or September 12-14, 2006 American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) Basic Marine Electrical Course will be held in Wilmington, North Carolina. Contact ABYC at (410) or September 20-23, 2006 The Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (SAMS) will hold its 2006 Annual Conference & Educational Training Symposia, on September 20th - 23rd, 2006, at the Holiday Inn by the Bay Hotel & Convention Center, 88 Spring Street, Portland, Maine. For reservations, call For further information call Mary Stahler at or September 24-25, The National Association of Marine Surveyors (NAMS) will hold its th Annual National Marine Conference West at the Radisson Hotel, Fisherman s Wharf, San Francisco, CA. For more information, call November 6-8, 2006 American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) Basic Maine Engines Course will be held in Jacksonville, Florida. Contact ABYC at (410) or NEWSNOTES, from page 11 a full survey for a potential buyer; the reviewer s name is available to buyers), especially for surveyors who are just getting started. But others see it as trouble. How do you explain to a buyer that your expensive C&V survey found a rotten transom that your review missed? Could a creative attorney could make the difference between review and survey very small? Might a broker convince a buyer that the boat has a clean bill of health since a surveyor has reviewed it? Since Boat-Chek not a buyer paid for the review, where else might the review turn up? Dick Frenzel, SAMS-AMS, thinks the reviews might confuse boat buyers, The general public doesn t know what a marine survey is and are likely to think a review is a real survey. At best he says, it presents a credibility problem, All a surveyor has is his reputation. You re only as good as your last job. It could also appear to be a conflict of interest, he thinks; in this case, the surveyor is paid by a representative of the seller, rather than the buyer. At worst he cautions, You may have to defend yourself in court when a full survey finds a serious problem that you should have seen on a real survey. On the other hand, Dewey Acker, SAMS- AMS, doesn t see the down side. In fact, he says, several SAMS members have invested in the company. Dewey says that it would be very difficult to mistake the report for a survey; not only does the website make it clear in several places, but users have to read a disclaimer explaining that fact and to acknowledge it with a mouse click before they can see a report. Anybody can sue anybody for anything, and it s certainly possible to get sued for missing something in a report that later shows up in a survey, but users are told so many times that the report is not a C&V survey, it s hard to imagine it would come to that, he says. Back in the spring of 2003, the Coast Guard and the National Institute for Safety and Health (NIOSH) brought 80 members of the boating industry together in Annapolis, Maryland to discuss the problem of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning on recreational boats. The meeting was prompted by a string of CO deaths on Arizona s Lake Powell. One result of the Annapolis meeting was a just-released CO behavioral study by NIOSH and the Coast Guard on 10 different make and model express cruisers, all of which had gasoline-powered propulsion engines and generators. Carbon monoxide concentrations were measured at different locations on the boats while they were underway and at rest. The study found that peak CO concentrations often exceeded 1,100 parts per million (ppm), while average CO concentrations were well over 100 ppm at the sterns. (At 800 ppm, dizziness, nausea, and convulsions can occur within 45 minutes.) Two of the boats with exhausts at the sides and underwater had dramatically lower CO concentrations (about 40% lower than the others). Other finding include: When the canvas is deployed and boat is underway, CO 12 concentrations exceeded the immediately dangerous to life and health (IDLH) level near the swim platform for many of the evaluated boats. CO concentrations are typically higher at a boat s stern and become gradually lower toward the bow. Stationary smoke tests in the engine compartment showed satisfactory sealing of the bulkhead between the engine and adjacent compartments on all boats. Based on these finding, some of the more salient recommendations include: Boat manufacturers should consider underwater exhaust that will significantly reduce CO concentrations inside the cockpit and other occupied areas compared to surface exhaust. Because of the station wagon effect, some canvas configurations should not be used while boat is moving or propulsion and/or generator engines are running. Due care should be exercised when designing the powered ventilation system on the engine compartment, locating the air intake on the opposite side of the generator exhaust. Also, potentially moving the intake much farther forward on the vessel would help minimize the intake of CO exhaust into the engine compartment. The possibility of adding force draft blowers into the cabin, creating a positive pressure to minimize potential CO intrusions, should be studied. Auxiliary blowers can be fitted and routed to ventilate the cockpit and swim platform areas in order to minimize negative pressure areas throughout the vessel. The American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) should examine their standards and emphasize ventilation problems that can lead to CO intrusions, taking a strong position against surface exhaust designs for propulsion engines.