That's Gonna Cost You.

DryArmour

Moderator
BELMOPAN, Belize, June 3, 2009 – Two years after his catamaran destroyed part of the Belize barrier reef, an American man has been ordered by a court to pay BZ$3.4 million (US$1.7 million) for the damage.

David Lautner’s BZ$600,000 (US$300,000) boat has also been held until he can pay the money.

He was fined this week for recklessly causing a disaster that resulted in a loss to the environment.

Magistrate Ed Usher ruled that Lautner did not exercise due diligence in navigating the Lighthouse Reef Atoll. That negligence resulted in damage to a piece of the reef measuring 125 feet by 75 feet.

On May 2, 2007, the American was trying to reach harbor in his double hull catamaran, Sun Jam, when it ran aground.

Magistrate Usher said that because of the size of the vessel, 37 feet x 21 feet, Lautner should have hired a pilot and sufficient crew to navigate the reef safely.

Lautner has two months to pay BZ$50,000 (US$25,000) of the total judgment and another five years to pay the balance.

REEF.jpg

 

sailak

Super Anarchist
2,865
46
AK
Wouldn't the insurance company pick that up? (Assuming you would insure a $600k boat right?)

 

jocal505

moderate, informed, ex-gunowner
14,220
284
near Seattle, Wa
Ross Perot blasted out a section of reef to get his 68 ft yacht in front of his vacation property. Permits had been denied in 1986, but later authorities took note that the yacht was somehow parked inside the coral reef, in front of the house. Summary: within a week of the permit's denial, hundreds of sticks of dynamite had been purchased by a marine contractor who placed Perot on the scene in snorkeling gear at the time of the blasting. Perot denied the account, and the contractor's memory became fuzzy after an angry Perot phone call. Bermuda authorities subsequently granted a retroactive permit.

Story below from TIME Magazine July 13, 1992, at the time of his presidential campaign.

Millionaires like Ross Perot are used to getting their way. A case in point: In 1985 the Texas businessman bought two vacation homes in Bermuda, one for himself, one for his son. He hired a local firm to add swimming pools, verandas and air conditioning to both houses. Perot also set about finding a way to dock his 68-ft. cabin cruiser, the Chateau Margaux, at his doorstep.Unfortunately, Perot's preferred anchorage in Castle Harbour is filled with species of marine life that are protected by environmental laws. On June 4, 1986, Bermuda's Ministry of the Environment ruled against Perot's plan to build a dock and boathouse in front of one of his houses, because "substantial dredging" would be needed to bring his boat close to shore. Faced with that denial, Perot's contractors realized that any similar request for permission to cut a channel in a nearby coral reef would probably be nixed as well. A week later, without filing for a permit, Perot's construction team blew up a section of the reef near his house.

On Aug. 6, 1986, Bermuda's leading newspaper, the Royal Gazette, quoted government officials who said they were investigating whether damage to the reef was caused by work done for Perot. Perot said he had in fact ordered some work on his house but knew nothing about the damage to the reef. "If all this is going to become news, I'm gone," he told the Royal Gazette. "I am going to sell my houses and leave." The threat seemed to chasten Bermuda officials, who quickly reported that there was no evidence Perot or anyone in his family had known about or authorized the "jackhammering" of the reef or other violations by Perot's contractors. But a government spokesman said the reef had been damaged and promised to investigate further.

As it turns out, records kept by Bermuda police, who strictly control access to explosives, show that 100 sticks of underwater dynamite and 50 detonators were issued on June 10, 1986, to Doug Mackie, a marine-construction expert hired by Perot's main contractor, Bermuda Engineering Associates. Mackie got more explosives the following day. A cheerful man who is one of Bermuda's handful of licensed blasters, Mackie says his job for Perot involved drilling a row of holes in the seabed, filling each with several sticks of dynamite, and detonating them electrically with a battery kept on his barge. On several occasions, he says, Perot put on snorkel gear and "dove the site with us and watched the drilling going on." Perot then watched from the shore as the charges were set off. None of this came to the attention of the Bermuda government.

Like much of the coral in Castle Harbour, the dynamited reef head was in poor shape, and it may already have been dead when Perot's men blew it up. Eventually the government decided the damage was not great and did not take anyone to court. On the understanding that Perot would not do any more unauthorized blasting, it then issued a retroactive permit for the dredging.

The question of who actually authorized the blasting was never answered. Mackie says it was the project supervisor at Bermuda Engineering. A former employee of the firm denies this. But he suggests the firm told Perot that any new application for a blasting permit would probably be denied. Last week Perot said he assumed that Bermuda Engineering obtained whatever permits were needed. He flatly denied that he watched Mackie drill or dynamite the seabed. He added that all Mackie did was use a jackhammer to knock off a 3-ft. piece of dead coral protruding from a dock. Perot then telephoned Mackie and quizzed him angrily about what he had told TIME. Mackie now says his memory of the incident is no longer clear.

Read more: http://www.time.com/...l#ixzz1Dwx4Sc7b

 
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Lono

Anarchist
831
18
Jocal,

What does Perot's incident have to do with the incident in Belize? Active blasting vs. what sounds like an accident, maybe a careless accident but not an active dredging operation.

 

Raz'r

Super Anarchist
59,914
4,609
De Nile
Wait - I get a moderate sized cat - and the courts expect me to have a pilot onboard? I can see liability, but that assumption is also concerning.

 
Magistrate Ed Usher ruled that Lautner did not exercise due diligence in navigating the Lighthouse Reef Atoll. That negligence resulted in damage to a piece of the reef measuring 125 feet by 75 feet.
Belize is leveraging its reef system, the second largest in the world, into eco-tourism, so I understand where they are coming from.

If I understand the ruling correctly, the risk to the reef from a boat that size is sufficient that a reasonably prudent owner would hired a local pilot for moving in and out of the atoll. If that's the ruling, then many sailboats are entertaining strict liability when entering into these atolls without a pilot. Something goes wrong, you pay. That's a scary proposition. Not an unfounded one, if your objective is to protect the reef and drum up business for local residents.

 
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MoeAlfa

Super Anarchist
12,560
33
The charter companies in Belize all operate cats, because of all the shoal draft reef areas.
Lautner's boat is a 37 foot Cat. If he was negligent for not having 2 lookouts and a pilot, what are charterboats doing?
I don't think the companies allow charterers to go outside the along-shore reef because the cuts are too tricky. You can see it from afar, it's easy to stay away from, and the water inside it is pretty flat. Lighthouse reef, however, is an atoll miles offshore. I've been there a couple of times on dive boats and the entrance didn't seem that difficult, but there are no good charts or navaids and, with a swell running, 30 kt trades, and/or bad light, it might be difficult.

 
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Innocent Bystander

Super Anarchist
11,749
755
Lower Southern MD
The charter companies in Belize all operate cats, because of all the shoal draft reef areas.
Lautner's boat is a 37 foot Cat. If he was negligent for not having 2 lookouts and a pilot, what are charterboats doing?
I don't think the companies allow charterers to go outside the along-shore reef because the cuts are too tricky. You can see it from afar, it's easy to stay away from, and the water inside it is pretty flat. Lighthouse reef, however, is an atoll miles offshore. I've been there a couple of times on dive boats and the entrance didn't seem that difficult, but there are no good charts or navaids and, with a swell running, 30 kt trades, and/or bad light, it might be difficult.
According to the story in the BZ newspaper, he was transiting to Mexico (apparantly singlehanded, but that's not specified) through BZ waters at night so it would make sense that he was outside. The most troubling thing to me is that the requirements for large ships (pilot, 2 lookouts at all times) were applied to a small pleasure vessel and the original fine assessed was USD 16.2M. He also was "negligent" in not having a GPS onboard. The $1.7 and 5 year payback were based on an appeal of the 16.2M. Beleize reef damage

 

Hike Bitches!

Super Anarchist
7,362
156
Solomons, MD
[hijack]

Mark, Thanks for the four Titanium Pro-Wik's you sent to the East Coast last week. I bought them without Mrs. Bitches' permission, but she'll thank me later. :p

[/hijack]

 
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