Just for Fun

Texas Inland Water Buoys and Markers

texas water law buoys maritime admiraltyOne of my six-year-old daughters asked me about buoys she saw floating in the lake near our house this weekend.

Section 31.142 of the Texas Parks & Wildlife Code authorizes the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department to provide for a standardized buoy-marking program for the inland water of the state. Under 31 Texas Administrative Code section 55.304, the Department adopted the U.S. Aids to Navigation System contained in 33 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 62 for Texas public waters. The United States Coast Guard administers the U.S. Aids to Navigation System.

The U.S. Aids to Navigation System primarily employs an arrangement of colors, shapes, numbers, and light characteristics to mark the limits of navigable routes.

Aids to navigation are placed on shore or on marine sites to assist a navigator to determine his/her position or safe course. The primary components of the U.S. Aids to Navigation System are beacons and buoys. Beacons are aids to navigation structures that are permanently fixed to the earth’s surface. Think lighthouses. Buoys are floating aids to navigation that are moored to the seabed by sinkers with chain or other moorings of various lengths.

Lateral marks define the port (left) and starboard (right) sides of a route to be followed. They may be either beacons or buoys. Sidemarks are lateral marks that advise the mariner to stay to one side of the mark. Preferred channel marks indicate channel junctions or bifurcations and may also mark wrecks or obstructions which the mariner, after consulting a chart to ascertain the location of the obstruction relative to the aid, may pass on either side.

I spent ten minutes explaining this to my daughter.

Her response? “I was just curious why they floated.”

For a simple explanation of Texas buoys and water markers, check out this webpage.

In our Just for Fun posts, we underscore certain construction and real estate topics just for the fun of it.

Trespass – Civil Liability

texas civil trespassA car jumped a roadway, curb, and sidewalk and ran into a tree, shrubs, and a brick wall owned by the plaintiff. There were erratic tire marks back on the roadway and curb. The driver was found unconscious behind the wheel. Turns out he had a heart attack and died. So the plaintiff sued his estate.

In earlier post, we discussed criminal trespass. One may also maintain a civil claim for trespass on realty.

A plaintiff proves civil trespass if the s/he owned or had a lawful right to possess property; the defendant entered that land; the entry was physical, voluntary, and intentional; and the trespass caused some injury to the plaintiff’s right of possession.

The trial judge ruled that the plaintiff should win the case as a matter of law without any need for the jury to consider the issue of the driver’s consciousness before the incident. The driver’s estate appealed. The appellate court returned the case to the trial court for another trial. The appellate court stated, “If [the driver] was unconscious or dead prior to leaving the roadway and entering upon [plaintiff’s] property, his act of entering [plaintiff’s] property could not have been voluntary.” In such an event, the plaintiff couldn’t win a civil trespass claim.

What if the driver was rendered unconscious before the accident due to intoxication?

In our Just for Fun posts, we underscore certain construction and real estate topics just for the fun of it.

Can You Shoot to Kill Santa Claus for Trespassing?

Texans love their family and their property. Many like their guns, too.

texas shoot kill trespassIf St. Nick trespasses onto your property, can you shoot to kill him for trespassing?

No, in Texas you can’t use deadly force in response to trespass. However, deadly force is not criminalized when, in some very particular circumstances, it’s used in self-defense, in defense of a third person, or to protect property.

Texas criminal law allows one to threaten force when the use of force is allowed by law in narrow situations. So maybe Santa shouldn’t be too surprised to at least see a shotgun wielded.

Please don’t shoot to kill Santa. Many children would be disappointed. Plus, his estate may have civil remedies even if your behavior isn’t criminal in nature. And I’ll bet Mrs. Claus makes a very charming witness.

In our Just for Fun posts, we underscore certain construction and real estate topics just for the fun of it.

Crowdfunding in Three Sentences

real estate investment crowdfundingCrowdfunding is the process of raising capital from a large number of people to fund something. There are different types of crowdfunding — including reward, debt, and equity-based — classified according to the purpose of the fundraising and/or what those providing the funds receive in exchange. Both federal and state laws regulate crowdfunding.

 In our Just for Fun posts, we underscore certain construction and real estate topics just for the fun of it.

What Exactly is “Closing” on Real Estate?

When is closing? Where is the closing? Will you both be present at closing? We can talk about it at closing.

You don’t have to be a sophisticated real estate investor in order to have heard the term closing. All homeowners have gone through the process. But what exactly is the process, and why is it called closing?

closing texas real estate transactionClosing is short for closing the transaction. It includes a determination that (1) all delinquent taxes on the property have been paid; (2) all current taxes based on the latest information have been properly prorated between the buyer and the seller; (3) the sales price has been paid; (4) all proceeds have been properly disbursed; (5) a final search of the property title has been made; and (6) all documents required to complete the sales transaction and conveyance have been signed, acknowledged, and filed for record, as appropriate.

In our Just for Fun posts, we underscore certain construction and real estate topics just for the fun of it.

Adventure on the Water

“You might want to head inside the cabin. Otherwise, you may get wet. It’s going to get bumpy. That speedboat has left what appears to be a hefty, unavoidable wake,” said the captain. Our little girls had never been on a boat before. Of course, my wife and I wanted their first experience to be a good one.

We chartered an unpretentious boat ride this past holiday weekend. Still, I would hardly describe it as roughing it. The vessel holds up to 98 people, has a glass-enclosed, air-conditioned cabin on the main deck with ice chests and snacks, and an upper deck for enjoying the scenery. The bridge sits forward on the main deck with areas to its port (left) and starboard (right) for passengers to relax. We were sitting on the deck in one of those areas, near the end of our excursion, when the captain advised that we might experience turbulence.texas water safety law admiralty maritime

Texas water safety is governed, in part, by Chapter 31 of the Parks and Wildlife Code. Under this authority, “No person may operate a motorboat so as to create a hazardous wake or wash.” Interestingly, there is also a specific law forbidding the operation of a motorboat in a circular course around anyone swimming or around any other boat or personal watercraft any occupant of which is engaged in fishing, waterskiing, or a similar activity (except to retrieve one of these downed recreationists).

Feeling adventurous, we told the captain we’d stand our ground and take our chances. Our girls were even more excited. They screamed in anticipation. We tightened our life jacket straps. We all grabbed the ship’s rail with white knuckles. Imagine our disappointment when we didn’t even experience a sprinkle.

In our Just for Fun posts, we underscore certain construction and real estate topics just for the fun of it.

In Trouble for Posting “No Trespass” Sign?

trespass beach maritime water lawIn a previous post we talked about civil trespass. One must be notified that he or she isn’t supposed to enter/remain on property before a legal trespass may occur. Posting signs is one way to accomplish this.

But what if a person posts a “no trespassing” sign on property owned by another? This scenario raises a lot of questions. And it may seem far-fetched at first glance. After all, why would somebody want to restrict access to someone else’s property?

Texas favors the free and unrestricted right of ingress and egress to and from state-owned beaches. No person may display on any public beach any sign, marker, or warning, or communicate that the public beach is private property or that the public doesn’t have the right of access to the public beach.

Still, if my beach towel is spread out, please refrain from lying on it without asking first. You’ve been notified.

In our Just for Fun posts, we underscore certain construction and real estate topics just for the fun of it.