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Road to A Marine Investigator

Full Text from Book


My inspiration for producing this book derives from several important factors. First is that presently no books exist on the subject.

This is mainly because I would estimate that there are probably less than one thousand full-time professional marine investigators. Secondly, and all aspiring investigators will be glad to hear this, there is a great need for more qualified investigators from all aspects of the marine industry.

On approaching this task I found myself somewhat intimidated by it since this is very wide-ranging subject about which even a half-dozen books could hardly begin to cover it all.

So it was that I had to reconcile myself to the fact that this necessarily had to be an introductory text, combined with the fact that it is highly unlikely that anyone is ever going to expend on it. This is simply because there isn't any money to be made in producing books for such a very limited audience.

Marine investigators as a group cover numerous types of investigations involving many technical specialties, so many that no one investigator can possibly be expert at them all.

Therefore, in planning this book I decided to choose and give a bit more elaboration on the most common types, such as sinking, fire, machinery damage and fraud.

By necessity it was necessary to omit others such as collisions and structural failures, subjects on which entire volumes could be devoted.

Certainly the same can be said for the chapters on fire losses and machinery damage cases to which are devoted as many as forty or fifty pages but still barely scratches the surface. My intent is not to be all-inclusive, but to demonstrate the vast complexity and difficulties associated with such investigations.

As an introductory text, its purpose is to acquaint the reader and student with the individual subjects and to provide direction for continued study and self-education.

Marine investigators are largely self-educated owing to a lack of educational opportunities for marine professionals.

But, there is another, less flattering reason: anyone who can afford the cost of advanced engineering degrees has little motivation to engage in a career of dirty and uncomfortable work crawling around through wrecked boats. There are more pleasant ways of earning a good living with a degree in engineering, so we find few, if any, engineers in our profession.

Perhaps another reason for this is that the marine investigator has a lot in common with police investigators; our work is as much about people as it is boats.

Most casualties occur as a result of the actions of people, so if you don't like investigating people, chances are you won't be pleased with a career in marine investigations.

The reader will find that at least a third of this book is devoted to investigation techniques with human beings, not just boats.

Many people find this to be an unpleasant task because they don't like questioning the motives of others or risking the prospects of confronting the frailties of human integrity.

A good investigator is half cop, half technician. It is important for the student to recognize that, like the homicide detective who partly relies on crime scene specialists, so too does the marine investigator make use of, and rely on, many other technical specialists.

He is a lot like a family doctor who is a general practitioner; there is much he doesn't know himself, but he does know those who do know.

Perhaps the most important talent that the marine investigator possesses is his people skills. The investigator's stock in trade is information and as every experienced investigator knows, people are often reluctant to talk to investigators. The investigator who develops the skill of extracting information from reluctant witnesses finishes far ahead of those who don't.

As any fan of the TV series Columbo can appreciate, good investigators are not ordinary people. There is something in their nature and character that sets them apart. Normal people are usually satisfied with safe and superficial explanations of things, whereas the investigator is a person who, for whatever reason, is not satisfied with superficial appearances but is compelled to dig deeper.

A good investigator is a cynic and a skeptic; he doubts the easy explanation. Good investigators have trouble with the idea of letting sleeping dogs lie because they may be covering up something important. They are prone to kicking the dog to see what it is laying on. What makes them good is that internal motivation to find out. Like the kid who's given a watch for his birthday, he has to take it apart to find out what is inside.

Investigators are also unusual in that they are not get-along, go-along Charlies, the type of person who is not afraid to rock the boat and make waves.

He will overturn the apple cart just to inspect the apples at the bottom of the pile. The idea of investigating the behavior of people and events carries with it a certain social stigma: it's not nice to go prying into the affairs of other people, yet that is the business of the investigator.

An investigator is not a person for whom social acceptance is a high priority because his occupation makes others view him with caution and distrust.

An additional area of expertise that the investigator must possess is a working knowledge of law.

Investigations frequently result in litigation and thus an omnipresent theme throughout this book is the fact that his work will be subject to extensive scrutiny by other experts.

His work product must be able to stand up to this scrutiny. He will frequently be subjected to merciless interrogation in depositions and occasional court testimony, thus making it imperative that he have a solid understanding of how to write a proper investigation report that isn't vulnerable to being discredited by the opposition.

While the emphasis is on insurance claims investigations, the same basic principles apply to all investigations regardless of why or for whom they are conducted. Thus, the reader who does not intend to do insurance work should not be put off by frequent reference to insurance matters.

Of the thirteen chapters, fully half are dedicated to learning the fundamentals such as issues of law, insurance contracts, evidence collection and handling, giving testimony and writing reports.

The remainder is given over to the specific areas of investigation such as fire or fraud.

The reader should understand that none of these chapters are intended to be definitive essays on the individual subjects, about which an entire book could be written. Instead, each chapter presents a broad outline of what is involved in each type, for which the individual investigator must ultimately seek to continue his education by other means.

David Pascoe
Destin, Florida
September, 2004

Copyright © 2004 David H. Pascoe

David Pascoe Power Boat Books Visit for his power boat books

David Pascoe - Biography

David Pascoe is a second generation marine surveyor in his family who began his surveying career at age 16 as an apprentice in 1965 as the era of wooden boats was drawing to a close.

Certified by the National Association of Marine Surveyors in 1972, he has conducted over 5,000 pre purchase surveys in addition to having conducted hundreds of boating accident investigations, including fires, sinkings, hull failures and machinery failure analysis.

Over forty years of knowledge and experience are brought to bear in following books. David Pascoe is the author of:

In addition to readers in the United States, boaters and boat industry professionals worldwide from nearly 80 countries have purchased David Pascoe's books, since introduction of his first book in 2001.

In 2012, David Pascoe has retired from marine surveying business at age 65.

On November 23rd, 2018, David Pascoe has passed away at age 71.

Biography - Long version


This book is not a compilation of articles from this web site.

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