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Bad Karma as roving American cruising sailor fined in New Zealand

by Lee Mylchreest on 10 Mar 2014
Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour - shared generously by all boating users, or meant to be .. .
Apart from the occasional drug smuggler that tries to avoid detection by masquerading as an innocent nomadic sailor, cruising sailors get into very little trouble as they cruise around the world. So it's significant and surprising that an American skipper is in trouble with the New Zealanders for behaving dangerously on his yacht.

The skipper of a 17m vessel part way through a cruising circumnavigation has been fined $1000 and ordered to pay reparations of $2000 after snagging a family's fishing craft and dragging it 30m through the water on Waitemata Harbour in January this year.

The fisherman, on an expedition with his family of four, including 10-year-old twins, was forced to cut the anchor line of his boat to free it from the US-flagged cruising boat, ironically called Karma, which had failed to stop on its way to berthing in Bayswater Marina.

The skipper of the Karma, Richard Livu Panescu, was charged by Maritime New Zealand (MNZ) with 'operating a ship in a manner which caused unnecessary danger or risk to any other person', under Section 65 of the Maritime Transport Act.

He pleaded guilty in Auckland District Court this week and was fined, as well as being ordered to pay reparations to the family on board the snagged vessel.

The incident occurred when the Karma cruised through a group of small recreational vessels fishing off Stanley Point in the Waitemata Harbour, rather than taking a longer route to the marina.

Mr Panescu attempted to pass between two vessels anchored close to each other but some protrusion on the Karma’s hull caught the anchor line of the family’s 4.5m boat.

Karma began towing the smaller boat through the water, almost causing the boy to fall overboard, and prompting the father to cut his anchor line, fearing for the safety of his family.

MNZ Regional Compliance Manager Deane Ingram said the prosecution should send a strong message to everyone out on the water for work or play.

'MNZ takes very seriously all incidents that pose a danger or risk of harm at sea – recreational or commercial. We will take firm action to ensure water users are operating safely,' he said.

'This incident could very easily have resulted in serious harm but would have been avoided completely if sensible navigational practices had been followed.'
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