LETTERS answer accordingly. But I think Bismarck still shares some responsibility. As you rightly point out, both Perdock and Weber had a significantly greater role in the incident than Bismarck. As such, the issue isn't whether Bismarck is getting the bum's rush, but whether he and the others are being treated fairly by the judicial system. Craig Moyle Concordia Carmichael Craig — We don't disagree with you, although we think being at the helm of a sailboat on a windless night and driving a car are quite different. For one thing, when you drive a car, you're almost always moving at potentially fatal speeds, and can immediately tell whether the lights are on at night. But sailboats almost never operate at fatal speeds, particularly when drifting, and you usually can't tell from the helm if the lights are on. We don't know if Bismarck was at the helm when it came time for the lights to be turned on, or whether he took over from someone else after dark. We think it would make a difference. Is the helmsman always responsible for the operation of the vessel? California Boating Law says different things in different places. On page 53, it says "'Operator' means the person on board who is steering the vessel while underway." But on page 247, it says "'Operator' means the person who operates or who has charge of the navigation or use of a vessel." And suppose you put your 8-year-old daughter at the helm of your drifting boat and she gets hit from behind by a guy driving a powerboat at 55 mph. Would she be guilty because she wasn't keeping a proper watch? When it comes to typical daysails, we think the owner is almost always the responsible party. If we were asked to decide the proximate cause of the Clear Lake tragedy, based on what we know, and assuming that the sailboat's stern light was not on, we'd say Perdock was 80 to 90% responsible, Weber was 9 to 19% percent responsible, and Bismarck was 1% responsible. That's why we're convinced that Bismarck — for reasons nobody has been able to understand — is getting hung out to dry. ⇑⇓YOU GO WHERE OTHERS FEAR TO SAIL Thanks for taking the Lynn Thorton case head on and being a cause for justice. Whether it was the Coasties' boarding habits of a few years ago, related issues in San Diego, finding sailors at sea, or this latest issue — these are reasons why Latitude ranks above all sailing periodicals — including the better glossies such as Yachting World and Seahorse. You're up there with the Economist and the BBC. Thanks for not going where the wind blows, but — to paraphrase — going where others fear to sail. Tim Dick Vice Chairman, Hawaii Super Ferry Honolulu Tim — Thanks for the very kind words, but we think you went a little overboard with the praise. ⇑⇓WHO CAN I WRITE TO? When I first read the reports of the tragic boating accident on Clear Lake, I wrongly assumed that the state or some other higher authority would step in to right the obvious injustice before it went too far. But with all the litigation going on, it's clearly gone beyond any semblance of common sense or justice. Although the physical injury done to the participants Page 70 •
• July, 2007
The July 2007 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.