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Old 23-06-2008, 19:17   #1
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Grounded Boat & Unexpected Twist

Several weeks ago a sailboat went ashore in a storm. It was anchored in an area unfortunately known for abandoned/derelict/unloved boats to be left...but it was decked out with solar panels, dinghy, looks ready to cruise tomorrow (exterior.) We tried to do the right thing and find the owner to let them know what has happened.

Well, we got the name and FL registration #'s. To do the easy check first, we looked into the USCG NVDC (documented boat database) and found nothing. We called the local authorities to check it out and they gave us a city and name for the owner, but no number. We did a 411 and called every person by that name we could find within 25 miles of the city, no luck.

Called USCG who said to call FL Fish & Wildlife. Well, the lady (I use that term loosely) whom I talked to informed me that they are an enforcement ageny and absolutely not a disseminating agency. They enforce the law, not give information. So I ask for the local Sheriff's number, she said she only had a 911 emergency number (let me guess, 911?) and could not tell me anything more. Geez.

So I call the Sheriff in the town of the owner's name...they confirmed the name that I had but went a step further and sent a unit to his home to inform him! Well, in his garage is a waverunner with the FL numbers on this sailboat...they say fraudulent numbers on the sailboat. The local sheriff is ruthless about boats touching shore and disposes of them quickly.

I suppose out next step is to get the hull ID. I would like to inform the owner. I don't really have any motive other than to let them know. The boat looks like it was mid-cruise and left. What a weird twist.

What would you do?
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Old 23-06-2008, 20:03   #2
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Well, my take would be:

1. The Coast Guard response was appropriate.

2. The F.W.C. response was what you would expect from the cousins and nephews of "important people."

3. The Sheriff's response is upredictable depending on a host of political and historical variables.


An 18 year resident of Florida
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Old 23-06-2008, 20:21   #3

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Leaving aside the various "helpful" local agnecies, (aside from the sheriff, who was genuinely helpful) it sure sounds like the owner of the sailboat had bogus registration numbers.

I wouldn't give that boat a second thought. The owner of the boat was enough of a bum to steal someone else's valid boat registration, why worry about him? I'd give him every consideration i would give to someone who "borrowed" my social security number....
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Old 23-06-2008, 20:42   #4
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Old 24-06-2008, 00:19   #5
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If the boat has gear and is a good boat, why don't you claim the boat for salvage??

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Old 24-06-2008, 05:12   #6
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I'm with Ex-Calif and Allan, There's only one good reason to put fake numbers on a well equipped boat. That means a good opportunity for a salvage claim.
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Old 24-06-2008, 07:22   #7
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It is possible that the boat was stolen at some point in the past, and the guy with the waverunner "owns" it. Now, "waverunner boy" probably wants nothing to do with this...

You will need a hull number to track this any further.
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Old 24-06-2008, 08:33   #8
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You could possibly claim salvage if the vessel is not anchored or tide to something on shore. If you laid claim to the boat it will be nearly impossible to obtain paperwork for it, if the owner of the boat didn't have paper work than you might as well forget it. You could take all the goodies off of it but now your responsible for disposing of the vessel which can become quite expensive, but if it has enough gear to salvage off of it, it may be worth it. Usually these situations are more expensive and trouble than they are worth. You also don't want to be in possession of a stolen vessel.
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Old 24-06-2008, 10:28   #9

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I would also suspect the sailboat was previously stolen, and someone (not necessarily the jetski guy, but perhaps) simply copied down some numbers, or made them up, and figured they'd get by that way. Then abandoned the boat rather than risk having to substantiate their numbers during a recovery attempt.

Or, it may have been used (for smuggling) and abandoned by intent.

Either way, it would seem that the USCG and oddly enough the FBI should be interested since various felonies involving "grand theft/larceny" of a vehicle, interstate transport, etc. are involved. they may simply not be willing to allocate their resources to 'mere' property crime, but they both should be involved and both should have jurisdiction--even if "everything" is in Florida.

In the meantime, by all means, document what you've done and rescue the boat, you're entitled to salvage. Then try to visit, face to face, at your local agencies. Ask them diplomatically "If I were to call the local media and tell them that no one is interested in investigating a grand larceny, forgery, and possible smuggling activity, you wouldn't have any objection to that, would you? I mean, you really have no responsibility in this matter, do you?"

Take salvage, go to the media, we're coming up on August and what is called "Silly Season" in the press when any interesting story will get space because all the real powermakers have left town for the month. Worst comes to worse, you'll own another boat!

Or, PM me with the locaiton and numbers of the boat, and maybe I'll take two weeks off.<VBG>
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Old 24-06-2008, 16:54   #10
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If you can get the make and year you could compare it to the stolen boat registry. It actually has photos and such.

Otherwise, lemme know how much you want for the solar panels, wind stuff, pedestal, wheel...

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Old 01-07-2008, 21:21   #11
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Hey if its a cat and you salvage it and can't get rid of it ill take it i would pay you of course but thats if no one clais it then it's free for you.
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Old 02-07-2008, 07:45   #12
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I imagine that you are entitled to salvage rights and if you can document it you can get an abandoned vehicle title as well. I would ask a marina manager what the process is for a lien sale on a boat. In the current economy they are probably pretty up to date with that. Also if the equipment is worth it talk to a maritime attorney. Seems like a pretty good gamble for a couple hundred bucks you could end up with a boat and the equipment. Keep the equipment and then donate the boat to the sea scouts.
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Old 02-07-2008, 08:31   #13

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I'm afraid "salvage rights" are a bit more complicated than the posters here seem to think. "Salvage" does NOT give you rights to the entire vessel, only compensation for the risk and hazard to your vessel and person in saving it, or its cargo. In addition, salvage is a "no cure-no pay". No matter how hard you try, if the vessel is lost you have no rights.

If the boat went ashore and was destroyed, you didn't salvage it, and you have no rights.
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