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Old 29-11-2010, 04:26   #1
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A Cautionary Tale

Hi cruisers/ sailors
We are new to sailing, boating and doing business in USA; quite green you might say! Last December we bought a catamaran at Ft Lauderdale. That in itself was quite an ordeal not being residents of USA. The extra costs incurred while waiting on the US Coast Guard to delete the boat from the US registry so that we could register it in our own country were immense. So were the extra costs that arose because of later discoveries of misrepresented details on the sales agreement. In our countries the onus would be on the seller to fix and supply. Our USA experience is that they quite literally shrug it off. Contact us should you be planning to buy a boat in the USA and want to know more..

We finally had to leave USA, business unfinished. This meant hiring a captain to move the new boat first to Bimini then back to Florida to obtain a Cruisers permit for it to wait in Florida until we returned 10 months later.
The Captain, on returning from Bimini, then took the boat to Rock Harbor to be lifted out of the water and laid up on the Hard at AAAA Boats & Tires boatyard in Rock Harbour, Key Largo. They assured us they would take good care of the boat for us.

On our return, 10 months later, we found the boat had not once been checked; not even a preliminary check been done as the boat was laid up.
Two windows unsecured for 9 months do a lot of damage - flooding and mould.
Sails left on for nearly 5 months, despite being especially instructed to take the sails off on arrival.
The batteries were not disconnected - flat and ruined batteries.
Over 10 months an unknown and barely discernable pinhole in the welding of the port diesel tank leaked out just over 100 litres of diesel into the port bilge. Don’t ask me why, when someone put the sails into the saloon (finally) in late May, he chose to turn a blind eye to an overwhelming smell of diesel that must have greeted him as he unlocked the saloon doors of the boat.
In the course of taking the diesel out of the bilge to the starboard tank a very small amount (1 litre to a possible maximum of 4 litres in total ) apparently overflowed out of the starboard fuel air vent down the side of the boat. We did not notice this happening but diesel was found on the ground below the fuel air vent by the owner of the boatyard the very next day!

US$6880.00 later - that was the quoted cost of the "Proposal to Clean Up the Oil Spill " alone - we paid up and left.

" No Cash No Splash " is a sign written on the office wall there. And yes it is CASH that they want not Mastercard.
We refused to pay cash and we do not know if there has been a legitimate "clean up " of the tiny spot of diesel on the ground where our boat was since we left or not or if our payment was used to clean up all the spots of diesel all over the yard, but we do know that boaters needing a bigger than usual travel lift should not be tempted by the very cheap daily storage costs at AAAA Boats and Tires, Rock Harbor.

There are no formal pricelists available. Costs, especially extra costs, are deliberately muffed over when you first make initial inquiries. It all becomes very expensive when moved from the “storage area “ across the gravel road running down the middle of the boat yard to be placed in the "work area " of the yard. You pay extra for the travel lift to put you there to begin with. You are forced to buy materials vai the business, anti fouling etc, you cannot live aboard unless you pay $1 a day per foot over and above the $2 per foot a day to be in the "Work area. " The yard is toxic with antifouling and fibreglass dust flying about in the wind and if it rains there are giant muddy puddles of it everywhere before it runs off straight into the sea. Probably you would not want to live aboard anyway . There are no pleasant amenities anyway - but there are amenties!

As we left we ran aground - the channel is dredged out sometimes and is badly marked.

We thought it would be an OK place to leave our boat because the surveyor we employed to survey the boat before purchasing it put the address into our hands. How wrong could we have been.
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Old 29-11-2010, 04:57   #2
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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Godwits.

I'm sorry for your problems, and hope that you are, at last, enjoying your boat.
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Old 29-11-2010, 05:20   #3
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sounds like everything went exactly wrong here. leaving a boat unattended is a big problem in itself .. then the fuel leak must have been really nasty. sorry about your experience in the USA.
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Old 29-11-2010, 06:23   #4
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A sad tale indeed.... my experience in a US B/yard was very good... but then I was fortunate enough to end up in possibly one of the best yards in the States for customer service and courtesy....
SailCraft in Oriental... I too had to lift and leave for a year.. on my return the boat was fine... never had a problem with 'No Cash No Splash'...
I was helped and advised with many of the jobs I ended up taking on including fitting a new shaft and strut after getting them damaged by fouling a sunken mooring in Taylors Creek Beaufort... loaned tools etc at no extra cost... they were more like friends than a commercial business...
But... I did find a certain attitude further down the way... a tendency to view one as a dumb foriegner to be screwed as we are more vulnerable with our limited knowledge of laws and also the time restriction placed on us by our visa's...
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Old 29-11-2010, 07:57   #5
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The name - AAA Boats and Tires - should have been warning enough.
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Old 29-11-2010, 08:07   #6
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Just to clarify for those who may misinterpret.....
But... I did find a certain attitude further down the way... a tendency to view one as a dumb foriegner to be screwed as we are more vulnerable with our limited knowledge of laws and also the time restriction placed on us by our visa's...
Down the way means futher on down the coast in travel.... not time in yard...

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Old 29-11-2010, 08:23   #7
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So sorry for the awful experience, Godwits. I only have a little trailer sailer, so I have no real experience with boat yards and/or delivery captains. It wasn't clear in your post, but how often were you in contact with the boatyard during the 10 months you were away? I was also wondering if the captain has any responsibility for leaving the boat in the state it was in when he delivered it to the boatyard - he didn't even take off the sails or close hatches?!?! It certainly seems there's a legitimate case for a lawsuit (somewhere)...
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Old 29-11-2010, 08:31   #8
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Originally Posted by boatman61 View Post
Just to clarify for those who may misinterpret.....
But... I did find a certain attitude further down the way... a tendency to view one as a dumb foriegner to be screwed as we are more vulnerable with our limited knowledge of laws and also the time restriction placed on us by our visa's...
Down the way means futher on down the coast in travel.... not time in yard...

Unfortunately it has become the corporate way in the business world. To rape anything, and everything they can out of a customer. It's not just the foreigners. The best advice I can give is buyer beware, and it has been around a long time. Of course not alll companies work this way, but it does seem to be the trend.

It is hard to tell if the O.P. is ranting against the yard only, or the USA is included? I am not defending the yard, but shame on you for not taking care of your own vessel. If you want something done right you have to do it yourself, or at least look over the shoulder of the person doing it.

You most likely could have deflagged the boat from your home. I bought a German built, and owned vessel, and accomplished this. It cost me a little phone time, but that's all.

You didn't take the time to check all openings before you left? Sounds like you shopped, and then dropped the boat off.

Are you blaming the yard for running aground too? Sorry about your problems, but it sure seems to me you carry some fault too. Boats are like babies they need some looking after...........i2f
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Old 29-11-2010, 09:30   #9
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Figure I'll jot down my experience of buying in the States for consideration/information for any possible future buyers from outside the States like me...
First of all it was a private sale...
I spotted it on the net, contacted the owner and flew down from Newark where I'd been boathunting on a 90day visa and $30K in my pocket...
I looked the boat over and loved Cherubini's lines.. the cutter rig and also the price... the owner was prepared to drop a coupla grand...
I had downloaded the MSA Bill of Sale (UK) which has all the relevant details re shares/liens etc and then got the owner to take me to his bank... as I was headed for the UK I wanted a familiar Document for over there..
We then filled in the Bill of Sale with the Bank Manager as Witness and it was then signed and stamped by her as Official witness to the Legality of the transaction...
In the UK we'd have done it in the Pub over a beer and shaken hands on the deal... but in a strange country I take nothing for granted.
As for De-Flaging... thats a fairly simple proceedure...
I enquired at the B/yard as to the nearest C&I Office to Oriental which turned out to be in Morehead City about 30 odd miles down the road...
I phoned and made an appointment for the following week... turned up with Passport and all the relevant paper work nessecary for the task at hand.
I was shown into an office where a very nice lady... (I'm embarrassed to say her name escapes me at the moment...) gave me the forms to fill in... helped on some off the terminology that confused me and had explained in detail the can and cannots for my boat.. and the cans and cannots for me... quite a difference... my boat being a US citizen by birth...
A fortnight later she called the number at the yard which I had given her and told me if I'd like to come down the paperwork was completed and stamped.. ready to go..
I made an appointment for the following week for a mutually agreeable time.. drove down there and after some pleasant chat (she was an enthusiasic sailor as well) went back to Oriental the legal owner of a now UK flagged vessel...
JD was poured over the bow and down my neck and 'Panasea' became 'Moondance'...
I sailed for Europe on the 89th day of my visa...
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Old 29-11-2010, 09:43   #10
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To partially quote Imagine2frolic;

"Unfortunately it has become the corporate way in the business world. To rape anything, and everything they can out of a customer"

It is just not an American attitude, it is leaching into Canadian business too. I find unless you have a personal relationship with the tradesman/businesman you are going to get less than stellar service. My wife is the Maid of Honour at our auto mechanics wedding so we are covered concerning the car, we are good friends with a fellow that works at one of the local chandlers so we don't get hosed there. But everywhere else I expect and usually get poor to rotten service. I just live with it now and if its especially heinous, there is harsh words and no repeat business.

It's a sad fact that todays business reality has very little pride nor honour to live by.

Allan
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Old 29-11-2010, 17:48   #11
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I meant to not leave out the rest of the world.........i2f
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Old 29-11-2010, 17:58   #12
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Welcome to America! Where many people will try to screw you each chance they get.

Sorry to hear of your troubles. It's unfortunate that not all boat yards are reputable and honest.

Got me thinking - is there any kind of site where marina's and boat services (be it surveyors or any other boat service) are reviewed? Would be nice to have a place where any service related to boating could be reviewed so others could be warned of issues.
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Old 29-11-2010, 18:35   #13
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Old 29-11-2010, 18:49   #14
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Sorry to hear about your bad experience at the boatyard.

Most cruising sailors end up doing everything for themselves, not because they are cheap, but because they want it done right.

I have had very little work done by others on Exit Only, and when it is done, I usually am there watching it happen to make sure it is being done right.

Yachts move around, and cruising yachties don't create much repeat business. There's not much motivation to develop a relationship with a yachtie, and not much in the way of a penalty if you do shoddy work on his yacht.

There is a lot of truth to the saying, "If you want to get anything done right, you have to do it yourself." I would not trust anyone to deliver my yacht, and I would not trust them to do a good job of laying it up to put it into storage. I am usually a fairly positive person, but when it comes to Exit Only, I only trust myself.
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Old 29-11-2010, 19:34   #15
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A cautionary tale. It is easy to blame the owners for leaving their boat alone for 10 months, and claim how we would have done it differently. But wrong. They hired the yard to haul and store the vessel for which they paid a substantial fee. This is a simple fee for service arrangement whereby the yard contracted to provide a service. The owners stated that their boat was to have the sails removed etc and laid out their requirements in advance and in typical yard fashion they did nothing. Unfortunately this is the norm today rather than the exception. I have had a lot of experience with yards in every imaginable location having commissioned a large number of new yachts for business purposes and I can say that the majority of yards I've dealt with have been horrific. And the bigger the yard the worse they are. They ALL over charge, stall the work to tack on hours, promise timing they cannot honor and hold your vessel hostage until you agree to pay whatever they ask. The only exception to this rule, and it is rare, is the odd small family run sort of yard where you get some service. There is no recourse built in to the system so if you have a dispute with a yard for fraudulent conduct, they refuse to launch your boat and if you still don't pay and have a U.S. CG documented vessel all they have to do is file a document for nonpayment with the Coast Guard and instantly you have a lien on your boat. They don't even have to prove you owe them any money. Now you are unable to sell your boat without a long and costly litigation which very few people are willing to endure. The lesson to be learned from these people is stay out of the boat yard. There is one good aspect to this ongoing financial mess; a lot of these guys are going under. I say good riddance
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