Letter to Professional Skipper Magazine Aug/Sept 2013
Written by Snr Lecturer NZ Maritime School Julian Joy
It is pleasing to read your articles in the NZ Herald 22 March, and your Journal’s March/April issue regarding the appalling standards of Maritime New Zealand’s legal processes. You highlighted the legal nonsense of the Gypsy/Anteaus case and its rapid local handling to avoid court processes for the skipper of Anteaus.
However you omitted to use the most obvious and extreme case for comparison – the case that has been covered by Mike Pigneguy in your issues with enthusiasm. (“Yachty learns to give way- the hard way – How to avoid a close quarters situation” March/April 2011, and several letters in following issues). This is the case of Classique (Mel Bolton) v Seaway II (Mike Pigneguy), where no collision took place, no damage was done, no injuries occurred, no one ‘feared for their lives’ there were no ‘horrified onlookers’, and yet Maritime NZ took that case up with gusto, and have spent probably in excess of $200,000 (my estimate) on hiring a legal team to take Classique’s skipper to court on ‘dangerous use’ charges. Mr Bolton was unrepresented, before a judge who admitted he had absolutely zero maritime knowledge, and he received a criminal conviction and a fine of $6,000, the largest fine in NZ history under S65 Maritime Transport Act as far as I can establish. Mr Bolton is of course appealing on several legal and maritime law grounds, so I would hope for some future balanced legal interest in this from your journal.
The Gypsy/ Anteaus case by contrast has real immediate public interest, as shown by the Herald article. I was on the water on “Te Aurere” only a couple of hundred metres from the accident, and there was plenty of water and visibility in that area. We observed the aftermath but not the collision. “Te Aurere featured as the unnamed waka near “Spirit of New Zealand” in your photographs.
What MNZ implies therefore by its legal department’s and legal contractors’ actions on these and many other cases is that if we skippers on the water suspect a possible close call, we must ensure we hit the other boat. It’s a lot cheaper and we won’t end up with a criminal conviction. “Train your crews accordingly!”
Signed – Julian Joy (NZ Maritime School – Auckland)