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Old 18-12-2014, 09:11   #1
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Free Boats on the ICW

Man there are so many boats just trashed on the ICW. Why doesn't someone come along with a tow boat, haul, and chop them up for parts and scrap? You'd think these things would be worth something. I saw a pretty big schooner grounded out south of St Augustine has to be worth something to someone. What does salvage law say about semi permanently grounded derelict boats?


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Old 18-12-2014, 09:15   #2
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Re: Free boats on the icw

Good question -- something I've wondered about myself quite often. I hope you can get an answer. Also, I assume the laws would vary from state to state.
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Old 18-12-2014, 09:22   #3
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Re: Free boats on the icw

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Man there are so many boats just trashed on the ICW. Why doesn't someone come along with a tow boat, haul, and chop them up for parts and scrap?
You have any idea how much expense and liability there is in scrapping an abandoned boat? Not to mention; just because a boat is "abandoned" doesn't mean there isn't an owner somewhere. This kind of thing is typically a job for law enforcement and other government agencies to tackle, not somebody looking to make a buck.
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Old 18-12-2014, 09:32   #4
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Re: Free boats on the icw

Abandoned boats are a problem everywhere there is water. Boats (like cars) eventually get to the point where they are worthless. A car has a few dollars worth of scrap metal. A boat is not just worthless, it is a liability. It costs money to dispose of.

So - Many people just walk away from these boats. There should be a law but there isn't or the laws are ineffective.

Until the public complains loud and long about these boats, the local governments aren't going to do anything about them. Most folks don't see them so the governments don't get a lot of pressure.
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Old 18-12-2014, 09:36   #5
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Re: Free boats on the icw

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Until the public complains loud and long about these boats, the local governments aren't going to do anything about them. Most folks don't see them so the governments don't get a lot of pressure.
Not so in California- Abandoned Watercraft Abatement Fund (AWAF)
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Old 18-12-2014, 09:37   #6
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Re: Free boats on the icw

I'm in Marina Stadium here is Miami and I'm looking at a power cruiser and at least two small boats that are NOT grounded, are anchored, but are obviously abandoned. One has a dinghy that appears to be ripped and is hanging off of one side. The others are covered in birds. None of them appear to have florida registration or another other identifying info like names.

I could see the cruiser being a good candidate.

Question: You could claim salvage but if you do don't you also get all the liabilities associated with the claim?
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Old 18-12-2014, 09:43   #7
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Re: Free boats on the icw

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Reading that, I expect the paperwork would cost as much as the removal. It's a good idea but overly complicated.
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Old 18-12-2014, 09:48   #8
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Re: Free boats on the icw

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Reading that, I expect the paperwork would cost as much as the removal. It's a good idea but overly complicated.
So you complain that there's no government solution, then when you are shown a government solution you complain that it's too complicated.


I can tell you however, that California is actively removing abandoned vessels.

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Old 18-12-2014, 09:58   #9
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Re: Free boats on the icw

Yeah, it seems when they take our money for registration etc, they should have a fund to scrap abandoned boats.
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Old 18-12-2014, 10:24   #10
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Re: Free boats on the icw

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Yeah, it seems when they take our money for registration etc, they should have a fund to scrap abandoned boats.
I say a fund to help track down and make liable the owners. The taxpayers shouldn't have to pay to salvage or scrap private parties boats.

That said, I don't believe they should be ignored either or not salvaged/scrapped by local/city/county/state governments. Just that the owners should be liable for all cost, including cost to track them down and a lien placed against them until the cost are recovered.
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Old 18-12-2014, 11:06   #11
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Re: Free boats on the icw

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Yeah, it seems when they take our money for registration etc, they should have a fund to scrap abandoned boats.
In Washington they charge a 3dollar fee on every vessel registered each year to fund the derelict vessel abatement fund
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Old 18-12-2014, 11:10   #12
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Re: Free boats on the icw

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Question: You could claim salvage but if you do don't you also get all the liabilities associated with the claim?
You sure do. In particular, you are now responsible for any environmental impact from moving it, repairing it, whatever. And sometimes that environmental impact can be very big, and very expensive.

Of course, to claim salvage there are also forms to fill out and a number of legal hoops to jump through. Which is why it is not economically feasible for people to just tow them away and chop them up for parts.
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Old 18-12-2014, 16:54   #13
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Re: Free Boats on the ICW

From what I've read, the State of Florida does have an annual derelict removal budget, but it's way too small to remove all the derelicts in a timely manner. Some cities (like Saint Augustine) have effectively paid to have some of the most prominent eye sores removed (over a hundred I'm told), but the legal hurtles involved allow many to sink before they can be towed, and THAT cost is tremendous.

I don't know if it's a State or Federal mandate, but whoever wants to remove an apparently abandoned boat from "it's" waters has to search for the boat's rightful owner with due diligence. Since most people who abandon a boat do their best to erase all traces of ownership, that can sometimes take years of investigative work that nobody wants to pay for, so the boat sits there until it sinks, at which point the EPA intervenes and spends 100 times more on the subsequent clean-up than it would have cost to tow and haul it while it was still afloat.

The laws are there. The hard part is finding somebody willing to enforce them on their dime.

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Old 18-12-2014, 18:15   #14
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Re: Free Boats on the ICW

This is what happens when seemingly normal people venture down the ICW. The boat becomes a derelict and the owners vanish. Its all predictable. Owners truly sotted wandering off into the Great Dismal swamp. Boats wandering and aground! Its Deliverance made real.
Anyone who would salvage those boats runs the risk of being subsumed in the vortex of dereliction.
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Old 18-12-2014, 18:30   #15
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Re: Free Boats on the ICW

Private industry would be a much better solution than government programs...

The salvage concept already exists but (as previously pointed out) is excessively complicated and costly...

Were you to revamp this process I'm sure someone would make it a viable business.

A couple of potential ideas:
- Any vessel with registration stickers out of date more than 2 years
- Some kind of formal notification to the registered owner... think of a formal serving like with the courts
- Reduced environmental liability for the removers - especially if they didn't cause it
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