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Old 07-01-2005, 08:43   #1
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Yacht recovery after Frances

I'd appreciate any comments re the problems I'm having with the storage yard where my full keel 40' ketch is out of the water.

It was on a grassy field in Fort Pierce with the masts and rigging off when Hurricane Francis hit. The wooden block supporting the forward keel appears to have been dry rotted, and the vessel went over onto its starboard side. Luckily none of the jack stands stabbed the hull.

12 days later a 300 ton crane was employed to raise the numerous downed vessels (35+) in the yard.

Photos taken at the time of the re-erection show that the crane's two u-shaped straps were not spread apart by an upper gantry; the straight up lifting action placed the boat's weight on the starboard straps passing the aft upper taff rail and the forward cap rail. Both rails were badly broken. On the port side both the taff rail and the cap rail suffered damage from "pinching" once the boat was raised upright These damages aren't the real problem however: a 54" vertical crack in the starboard glas hull runs directly amidships down the side. The crack midpoint is about at the waterline. The boat's hull was cracked I submit by stressing the hull as was never intended; upward force on the fore and aft upper starboard hull sides while the center starboard hull on the ground bore a very significant part of the weight of the boat. The hull at the point of the crack is at least 5/8" solid glas. Inside the hull the crack is a small ridge, outside broken ends of roving can be seen. It should be repairable, but it's going to be a good deal of work. The teak rails are a far more difficult job to get right. Adding injury to the situation is a yard claim for $1900+ as my share of the recovery (crane) cost.

My liability insurance for storage doesn't include hull damage so I'm on the hook.
So: What is acceptable practice for raising boats that are knocked over? Unlike boats damaged in the water, time is not of the essence here. Certainly air-bags could have been employed, which would have caused none of this damage.
What's a typical recovery charge to right a vessel ? Would the yard be correct to add in new jack stands?
How much could a crane cost for three days work? Is there any state- Federal rule that such accidents be documented and/or reported?

Other vessels that suffered damage during and after the storm have been written off by insurance companies. The terms the adjusters negotiated with the yard are not known. I'll be most interested in comments, especially from those whose boats have been knocked down. Thanks.
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Old 08-01-2005, 06:03   #2
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Nobody else seems to want to respond to this, and I have no legal background, - but here are my thoughts:
Go to a major boatbuilding firm with your photos and ask for their opinion, and whether they would be prepared to back up that opinion in court,
get a well respected marine survey company (again one willing to go to court), and establish exactly what the damage is to the boat

Establish the coat of full repair of the damage done by the "negligence" of the lift

If theboat builders and surveyor are prepared to go to court that the damage to the boat was caused by the method of lifting, and that it could hae been done in a way that woud have minimised the damage:

seek lawyers advice - personally I would go to the owner of the boatyard with the documentation and see if they will want to avoid litigation, you might also want to include the crane company.

But you need real legal advice immediately.

That will be 10% please
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Old 08-01-2005, 09:12   #3
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No Spreader

Negligent Lift:
... Photos taken at the time of the re-erection show that the crane's two u-shaped straps were not spread apart by an upper gantry; the straight up lifting action placed the boat's weight on the starboard straps ...
The upper gantry is called a spreader - essential in hoisting boats. Spreader bars (or beams) are used to prevent crushing and damaging the load. This is BASIC rigging tradecraft.
This is the essence of your negligence claim (against the yard & crane operator).
You need an expert Rigger / Hoister to testify to this effect.
Gord May
"If you didn't have the time or money to do it right in the first place, when will you get the time/$ to fix it?"

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Old 08-01-2005, 10:24   #4
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in terms of seeking legal advise: most large cities have a Bar Association. Here is a link to the Broward County one: - Click on public services and you'll see that, for $50.00 you can get a consulation with a lawyer that is specialized in the field that you need expertise in (Here in San Francisco that fee is $25.00).

If you are not in Broward County you can the Web for other Bar Associations
Good luck!
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