SeaHelp warning: Always check anchor buoys for your own safety
Does it hold or does it not? This was the question for a SeaHelp member last year mooring in a buoy field in the Uvala Podbucina in the area of Kakan island. He documented the buoy’s condition and passed the information on to SeaHelp which, finally, was the deciding factor for our article ”First check, then tie down‟. As the member had as well indicated the buoy’s defective state to the buoy operator, you would assume that corrective measures would have been taken immediately. But he had to content himself with the subjunctive ”would have‟ because when he choose the same buoy for mooring this year, he could hardly believe his eyes: only some superficial repairs had been done, although the term ”repairs‟ does not even describe the situation correctly, ”botch-up‟ would be a much better wording instead.
”There are some really black sheep among anchor buoy operators who won’t give a moment’s thought about their responsibilty. So, one day, the anchor buoy I informed SeaHelp about, actually tore off. Nevertheless, the operator just extended the old, torn rope with a new one and fixed another buoy. Last year I draw his attention to the point that the ropes of all his buoys should be replaced and that it was grossly negligent what he was renting out‟, the member whose name is known to SeaHelp but who does not want to be named publicly, reported. But what we do want to call by its name, though, is the respective buoy field which is located in the Uvala Podbucina. By the way, SeaHelp is determined to follow up on the subject and we will check further on if there will be any future action. Until then, skippers are supposed to take care with this buoy field.
By the way, this is not just scaremongering: Week after week SeaHelp rescue forces have to turn out and rescue stranded boats. Defective buoys are one of the main causes of stranding, as a SeaHelp spokesman informed.
And what about the legal aspects? Those anchoring at a buoy should be confident that it is safe. The reality is quite different, however. In case the client can prove gross negligence towards the buoy field operator, still the question remains, if he will be able to economically compensate the damage suffered. Quite often, the operators are limited liability companies. And it is questionable as to whether they dispose of any additional insurance against this kind of damages. So you see, being in the right and obtaining justice are two different pairs of shoes.
Another question is the conduct of insurance companies in this respect. To cast a glance on the small print is highly recommenable prior to the conclusion of the contract, but in no way later than before mooring at the buoys. Not all insurance companies will accept responsibility in the liability segment based on torn anchor buoys. For being on the safe side, the conclusion of a fully-comprehensive insurance is the answer. Very probably in this case, it would check any possible recourse against the buoy field operator.
But, whichever way you look at it, your holidays are most probably spoiled for the time being. And, therefore, SeaHelp’s recommendation: Whenever possible, check for yourself the condition of the buoys under water. You don’t necessarily need the capabilities of an apnoea diver, modern tools just like underwater drones will supply perfect results and are commercially available from approx. 1,400 euros. If necessary, and when the water is not too deep, pictures by a GoPro, preferably fixed to a bar, may provide information about the buoys‘ condition.
Have you also discovered any irregularities which you think should be made public? Just send us an email with the respective photos to the SeaMagazine editorial department, SeaHelp‘s communication channel. We will check the facts and relate them in order to take corrective actions.