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Old 25-06-2014, 20:26   #1
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Whose lines are those?

Here is the situation, I took a boat out for a sea trail as skipper with the broker, the buyer and the seller over 8 months ago. The buyer became the new owner the next day and shortly after became a friend. Business required the new owner to leave 6 months ago and he asked me to watch over his boat, which I've been doing. Hurricane season is here and the marina is inspecting the hurricane lines that all boats are required to have in place and ready to use if needed. Deadline is no later than July 1st. Today I discover that the hurricane lines that have been in place from the previous owner are gone. I ask around and find out the previous owner removed the lines last week. I called the previous owner and he readily admits that he took the lines. I ask why after so long did he take the lines from a boat he doesn't own in a slip he doesn't rent. He said, and I quote "the hurricane lines weren't on the inventory list". I ask if there are any other items on or around the boat that he sold months ago that he intends to take possession of that weren't on the inventory list. He said there was nothing else. I contact the new owner to explain things to him to see if there was a verbal agreement or some discussion about the hurricane lines. He said NO and is as shocked as I am that that previous owner came and took the lines.

I'm curious what the group here thinks about this. Is there any recourse? What would you do if you were in the current owner's position?


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Old 25-06-2014, 20:33   #2
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Re: Whose lines are those?

I would think that it legally constitutes theft, if you/ the owner really wanted to pursue it. On many contracts, it isn't a matter of inventory, but only "excludes personal items." Lines of any kind seem much more a boat item than a personal item.

On our recent purchase, if we had had a complete inventory, we might have had the guy clean house. I am pretty sure all of the previous owners were hoarders.
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Old 25-06-2014, 20:33   #3
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Re: Whose lines are those?

My PO took the Magma grill, a handheld spot light and a handheld VHF off my boat after I bought it, but before I took delivery.
My Broker pretty much said too bad, but I made her contact sellers broker saying I was upset, and I had a previous survey the seller had sent me that had those items listed on the survey.
PO had to mail me those itmes.

I bet what he did was theft and possibly endangering property that was not his, once new owner takes possession I don't think old owner has any right to take anything.
I'd tell him to replace the lines or I was going to call the police and report the theft, see how he reacts to that.
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Old 25-06-2014, 20:40   #4
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Re: Whose lines are those?

What a64pilot says. Tell him to return the lines in two days or you will file a police report. Its plain and simple theft.

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Old 25-06-2014, 21:12   #5
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Re: Whose lines are those?

I'd say if the inventory list is in writing, it depends on the inventory.

If what the seller says is true, they're his.

The written word always trumps the spoken word. Particularly if it says it trumps the spoken word. (And I'll bet it does.)

Taking them without notification may be rude, but if they're not on the inventory list, they were never the buyer's property.

And being rude isn't a crime.
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Old 25-06-2014, 21:15   #6
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Re: Whose lines are those?

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Originally Posted by Jammer Six View Post
I'd say if the inventory list is in writing, it depends on the inventory.

If what the seller says is true, they're his.

The written word always trumps the spoken word. Particularly if it says it trumps the spoken word. (And I'll bet it does.)

Is there sort of a statute of limitations on that? Previous owner waited 8 months to remove the lines. What if it was 80 months? Still ok? Isn't there some sort of implied ownership after so many months?


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Old 25-06-2014, 21:25   #7
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Re: Whose lines are those?

I think you are 100% correct. The moment things changed hands, I think the PO lost all rights to anything left.

If he had gone into the boat to take something, that would clearly be theft without a question. If the lines were attached to the boat, I'd say that also constitutes theft. Had he wanted them originally, he should have taken them before the ownership was transferred.

We bought a house recently - there was stuff left that wasn't on the original inventory. It's only been a month, but if the previous owners came and took the lawn mower they left in the shed, it would without a doubt be theft. I don't think a boat is any different.
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Old 25-06-2014, 21:51   #8
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Re: Whose lines are those?

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Is there sort of a statute of limitations on that? Previous owner waited 8 months to remove the lines. What if it was 80 months? Still ok? Isn't there some sort of implied ownership after so many months?
A statute of limitations, by definition, limits the government in the prosecution of a crime, and does not apply between individuals.

If I leave a pair of sandals on your boat, they never become yours unless I say so. I might forget about them, I might never come back for them, and breaking into your boat to get them would be a crime, but the sandals aren't yours. If you leave them on the dock, I have every right to pick them up and take them back.

The guy hasn't lied to you, he hasn't tried to mislead you. He obviously believes that the truth is that the lines are his.

The only type of "implied ownership" I've ever heard about is in real property, and varies from state to state. Since you brought it up, 80 months would not do it here in Washington state. I don't know about other states, because I have no idea why anyone would live in another state.

Time isn't an issue. Whether or not he sold you the lines is what matters here, in my opinion.

I take it from your response that either you don't know if the lines are on the inventory list or you do know that they aren't on the inventory list.

Why don't you find out and let us know if the lines are on the inventory list?

If they are, then I'd change my mind, and say you're right, he stole the lines from your buyer. Otherwise, I'd say you need new lines before July 1st.

For some reason, it doesn't sound to me like it's the cost of the lines that has you worked up. So buying new lines might be the cheapest, easiest way out.

Some things I'd go to war about. This isn't one of them, unless they're on the inventory list. That's the bare minimum condition for declaring war over these lines in my book.

So let us know.
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Old 25-06-2014, 22:09   #9
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Whose lines are those?

Jammer I'm clearly not a lawyer and used improper terms to describe a concept for consideration. Getting past that, I appreciate your analogies to add a different perspective which is why I posted here.

I do not know what was written in the contract. Since the PO was very quick to suggest the hurricane lines weren't in the inventory, for the sake of discussion, I am comfortable assuming that is true.

Since you don't know me, you can't possibly know that it takes far more than this to get me worked up. :-)
I look at this situation as more of a curiosity since I've never encountered anything like this. Having anticipated a quick 5 minute inspection from the dockmaster, I will freely admit I was pretty surprised at what I found, or didn't find. Money is not an irrelevant point. The lines, chain, shackles, thimbles, eye splices and installation on pilings under the dock will cost hundreds of dollars.

You seem to keep getting confused. The lines aren't mine and the boat isn't mine. The boat is one that I look after for a friend who has been off Island for an extended period.

For the record, the water is far too cold in Washington, that's why I wouldn't even consider living there.

I've left things in the owner's hands and will let him decide what he wants to do/have done.

The current owner is a man of means and just emailed me that he will be flying down here tomorrow. I gather he is willing to go to war over the principal... I will come back and update as things unfold.


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Old 25-06-2014, 22:16   #10
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Re: Whose lines are those?

The sandals example is different. If you left the sandals on the boat and then sold the boat, you sold the boat with the sandals. I really think the fact that the boat was sold and at the time of sale the previous owner is expected to have all their items removed that it is reasonable that he gave up any rights to any items that are part of the boat and lines clearly are part of a boat.

I believe legally a seller isn't supposed to leave anything behind that is not on the list, because the buyer would then have to deal with these potentially unwanted items. But I think if something is left, right or wrong it then becomes property of the buyer.

I certainly wouldn't get worked up over it, but it would annoy me that someone would have the nerve to come remove something 8 months later.

Where were these hurricane lines? Attached to the boat? On the boat?
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Old 25-06-2014, 22:23   #11
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Re: Whose lines are those?

Maytrix the lines are kept on the dock attached to pilings under the dock and on pilings that separate the slips. Most people do not use them for dock lines because they are large and not easily handled. These were not attached to the boat.


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Old 26-06-2014, 02:44   #12
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Re: Whose lines are those?

My sale contract under inventory said, "Any other items on the boat at the time of seatrial except personal items."

I can see now that this leaves an opening.

I would change to, "Any other items on the boat at the time of hand over" or something similar.

I view him as absolutely wrong but what is this stuff worth?
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Old 26-06-2014, 03:29   #13
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Re: Whose lines are those?

The lines weren't on the boat. Even if those clauses had been present, they wouldn't have mattered.The lines weren't attached to the boat, they weren't on the boat. So if they weren't on the inventory, it's a slam dunk.
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Old 26-06-2014, 04:34   #14
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Re: Whose lines are those?

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Originally Posted by Ex-Calif View Post
My sale contract under inventory said, "Any other items on the boat at the time of seatrial except personal items."

I can see now that this leaves an opening.

I would change to, "Any other items on the boat at the time of hand over" or something similar.
I wouldn't.

When I make an offer, if it's on the boat at the time of the sea trial, I expect it to go with the boat and be included in the price I am offering.

Specifying "on the boat at handover" gives the seller the opportunity to strip the boat of anything not specified in the inventory between the sea trial and handover unless the inventory lists every line, shackle, tool, engine spare etc, etc
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Old 26-06-2014, 05:43   #15
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Re: Whose lines are those?

If they weren't on or attached to the boat, I can see where they may not be considered part of the boat. Dock box for example, that may or may not convey with the sale as your buying a boat and I think most would not consider a dock box as part of a boat, if it was, it should be in the contract
I'm no lawyer, but I bet that is key whether they are considered part of the boat or not, I don't think the inventory list will hold water as many things are not on that list, silly analogy, but I bet the rudder wasn't on the inventory list, but let the PO take it after the sale and none would argue he had the right to do so, and the reason is, the rudder is part of the boat.

Were these lines part of the boat? I think not, but PO should have taken them on the day of the sale, leaving them for months implies to me that the lines were part of the sale. I had assumed the lines were left tied to the boat, not on the dock. He left for months, without every line he had tieing his boat to the dock?
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