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Miami Injury Lawyer > Blog > Boating Accidents > SailBoat Accidents Due to Captain Negligence. Vet Your Captain Before You Sail.

SailBoat Accidents Due to Captain Negligence. Vet Your Captain Before You Sail.


The beautiful Biscayne Bay waters make Miami one of the best places to sail.  The northern stretch of the Florida Keys protects the Bay from rough waters.  With our good wind and calm waters, it is ideal for sailing.

There are many sailing charters in Miami.  If you are going to charter a sailboat, make sure the Captain is Coast Guard certified and EXPERIENCED.  Ask questions. Gauge the Captain’s experience and command of the craft.  Ask if the Captain has sailed beyond the protected Bay waters.  Ask if the Captain has taken charters beyond Biscayne Bay.  Get a good sense of the years and, more importantly, the depth of experience.  Make sure you are comfortable and confident in the Captain.  Because even in Biscayne Bay, sailboat injuries or worse, death, can occur due to negligence.

You may have heard of Tacking while sailing.  This is when the boat is turned into the wind in order to change direction. And it is called Jibing when turning away from the wind. In both cases, this is where lines, sails and winches start to move rapidly.  The main sail swings from one side of the boat to the other.  The lower base is usually aluminum and can be heavy.  It is called the BOOM and called so for a reason! It can hit you in the head.  It can knock you out.  It can throw you overboard.

The ropes or lines attached to sails are called “sheets.” They start to whip as slack is loosened from one side and tightened on the boat’s other side.  If a passenger is near this action, a sheet can get wrapped around a leg, arm or some other body part.  As the sheet then comes under tension, it can cause serious injury by strangulating that part of the body.  The tension is real.

The boat, too, will suddenly lean from one side to the other.  If the passenger is not positioned properly, the passenger can be thrown overboard.

The Captain must have all passengers and crew in the proper position when Tacking or Jibing.  On bigger boats with a cockpit, passengers should be in the cockpit.  Passengers should not be in the foredeck (closer to the front) where most of the sheet and sail action is occurring.   Passengers should be under or away from the Boom if there is no cockpit.   And, the Captain, before leaving the Marina, should orient all passengers on these basics so mistakes do not happen.  Failure to do any of these is negligent.

At Pita Weber Del Prado, we understand sailing and sailboat accidents.  Additionally, we understand motorboats and powerboats – inboards and outboards.  For more than 20 years, we have been honored to represent people involved in sailboat accidents, motorboat accidents, powerboat accident, fan boat accidents, and various kinds of boating accidents.  We have helped people put their lives back together after enduring injury or the loss of a loved one as a result of boating negligence.

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