Helped a yacht that's run aground? Given directions via the V.H.F. Marine Radio to a boater in distress in thick fog? Towed a boat with a mechanical issue into harbor? All of these instances might very well give rise to a salvage award.
Under the general maritime law of the United States, anyone that renders aid to a vessel in peril is generally entitled to a salvage award as long as the aid benefitted the vessel and the person didn't have a preexisting obligation to assist. The amount of a salvage award depends on an analysis of various factors including the degree of peril the vessel was in and the risk faced by the salvor.
Earlier this month, reports are the sailing vessel ARCHANGEL out of Newport, RI allegedly ran aground in Maine. From the reports, it appears local boatyards were involved in removing the $2.4 Million dollar yacht from the ledge and transporting her to a haulout facility. That kind of service, provided there was no agreement reached with the owner/insurer beforehand, would likely entitle the local boatyards to a liberal salvage award under federal maritime law. It'll be curious whether a salvage award demand is made, or, whether the local boatyards accept time and materials compensation. You can read more about the incident HERE and HERE.
In the meantime, remember that there is a long line of admiralty law encouraging salvage awards and it may just be that your efforts entitle you to a significant monetary benefit.
Call us anytime to discuss your maritime salvage claim at 1-800-383-MAYDAY (6293).
Underway and making way.
By John Fulweiler