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Old 08-24-2018, 05:11 AM   #1
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Boat Damaged in Marina Slip

Apologies for the length of this; I think I’m still in shock and it’s helpful to get this in print.

We’re doing the northern part of the loop. This time, it’s mostly a delivery run to get the boat back to our home in Tennessee before winter where we can finish upgrading her. I hope we’ll do it a second time one day and take our time.

Yesterday afternoon, we made an overnight reservation at a marina in upstate NY. After giving the dimensions of our boat (44’ long; 14’ 10” wide and about 5’ draft fully loaded), the woman at the marina told me to “take the first slip on the right” and “tie up on either side.” We elected a port tie since we’d been locking through on that side and the fenders were already deployed.

The slip is a 20’ wide single with a concrete seawall on one side. As we entered in strong, gusting winds, our stern was blown toward the wall. I heard the unmistakable sound of a prop grinding—and then the starboard engine shut down. I measured the depth on the right side of the slip and there is a ledge of gravel and concrete sticking out from the concrete wall at least 8 feet into the slip. Four feet from the wall the depth is about 36 inches. At eight feet, it is just over 50 inches. As I told the marina person, we draw almost 60 inches fully loaded. There are no warning signs or anything to indicate this obstruction. I dove on it to inspect (shore power was not connected and no boats in adjacent slips) and cut my fingers on the jagged edges of the prop.

The girl in the marina office was utterly clueless. I asked her why she put a boat with our draft in a slip that was obstructed along one entire side. She said “other boats” had occupied the slip with no problems. I then asked why the marina map on the wall behind her said in bold, red, underlined letters “BOW IN ONLY. NO SAILBOATS.” She said, “Well, you’re bow-in and you’re not a sailboat.” I asked for a manager; she said he’d left for the day, it was impossible to reach him and she had no idea what to do. I told her I wanted to talk to him asap, left my number and as of this morning have not received a callback.

This morning I’m faced with being towed back through eight locks to have the boat hauled, inspected and the prop trued—again. Oh, yeah; all of this after signing a large check two days ago to have the props trued and shafts aligned. I’m beyond pissed and also wondering what would have happened to our stabilizer if I’d elected a starboard tie.

I want the marina to cover any expense and I’m prepared to sue if they don’t. I filmed the entire area to show the absence of warnings and videoed a witness—who’s willing to testify—taking depth soundings off my swim platform. Also got a photo of the marina map with the warning to employees.

Obviously, I’ll give the manager a chance to make this right, but I’d appreciate any thoughts of how y’all would handle this going forward short of violence.
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Old 08-24-2018, 05:18 AM   #2
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Sorry to read your story, hope you will sort that out
Good luck.

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Old 08-24-2018, 05:52 AM   #3
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Reaccess your need for a long tow.
Can you turn the shaft by hand?
Were the prop blades significantly bent?
If no I think you can make no wake speed through the locks to a diver or haul out.
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Old 08-24-2018, 06:17 AM   #4
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Good thoughts, Archie. The prop spins with the engine; I did not try by hand. I cannot tell in the murky water if the blades are noticeably bent. Only way is to sea-trial it.

Ignorant question: can a diver remove a prop to be serviced?

If so, I might ask the marina to bring in someone qualified to do that and verify alignment.
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Old 08-24-2018, 06:37 AM   #5
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If you have a twin engine boat, there should be no need for a tow. The boat will run just fine on one engine. Just a little more difficult to steer.
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Old 08-24-2018, 06:37 AM   #6
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A couple of thoughts -

Yes, a diver can certainly pull a prop for you. Every prop strike that I have ever had on my boat has been repaired by a diver. If the boat will run on it's own, even if it is very slow, then you should have no issues getting to a haul out location AFTER you have a diver pull the props.

No sense paying all of that $$ if a diver can take care of you.

You have two engines so making hull speed (or just below) will not be a problem.

If the marina tells you to push a wet rope uphill, you would have better luck just having insurance deal with it. Unless you are a lawyer, by the time you sue somebody for the repairs, your deductible would be covered.

You're going to have an issue with your own admission: "strong, gusting winds, our stern was blown toward the wall. I heard the unmistakable sound of a prop grinding—and then the starboard engine shut down."

Their defense would be that it was an act of nature.
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Old 08-24-2018, 07:08 AM   #7
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If you can find a diver to pull your prop, I would do that and stay in that marina (in a different slip), on there dime until it's fixed. I certainly wouldn't move my boat before talking to the manager and getting DNR (or whatever governing authority polices those waters) to write a report. Think I would call your insurance broker, explain the situation and ask their recommendation about filing now or waiting to see if the marina will cover the costs.

This is one of those situations where I really prefer having a trusted broker to talk to, versus calling the insurance company.

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Old 08-24-2018, 07:13 AM   #8
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The marina manager stopped by and he appears to be a stand-up guy. He said he didn’t realize the ledge stuck out into the slip as far as it does (eight feet before it falls off), but noted that the water is unusually low. He took full responsibility and is having a diver sent to pull the prop and have it repaired. I also plan to have the alignment re-checked. We have shaft savers, so hopefully they worked—we were at idle speed.

I respectfully disagree that a person operating a boat in a slip that has been assigned by a marina representative is somehow liable for hitting an unmarked obstruction. If I provide my boat’s measurements, I shouldn’t have to take physical soundings as I enter the slip. (I did, of course, keep an eye on the depth sounders and we had plenty of water on the port side — beneath the transducers.)

As for going back through eight locks on one engine—no thanks. With the winds on the Erie Canal locks, it can be challenging with two engines.
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Old 08-24-2018, 07:43 AM   #9
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Greetings,
Mr. K9. "You're going to have an issue with your own admission" On the contrary. IF the shallow ledge had NOT been there, any docking incident that caused damage as a result of "gusty winds" would have been solely Mr. 99's problem. It is the unmentioned LEDGE that is the issue. The marina is completely at fault IMO. Sorry to hear of your misfortune Mr. 99.


Mr. 99. Just read your last post. I hope it all works out for you.
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Old 08-24-2018, 08:22 AM   #10
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Thanks, RTF and all. I’ll update with the outcome.
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Old 08-24-2018, 08:35 AM   #11
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Geez, sorry to hear about this.

I greatly prefer to avoid slips next to shore. I always worry about MY ability to avoid drifting/overshooting or whatever. Docking is challenging enough without adding underwater obstructions to the mix.

Sounds like they knew something was unusual enough about that slip to make that note. Good you got a picture. Fingers crossed for you that the damage is limited to just the prop!
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Old 08-24-2018, 08:45 AM   #12
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My advice here was going to be to wait for the manager and see what he does before you get too upset about it, or even consider legal recourse. I always start with sugar before I go to vinegar, if you treat most people with respect they will usually reciprocate.


Not much point in talking to the part timer (?) behind the desk if she is not authorized to make decisions other than to tell her what happened and ask for the manager.


Sound like it is going to work out OK.



By the way, I hit some underwater rocks a few years back and bent the heck out of both of my props. It didn't foul up my alignment or bend a shaft so I had them pulled by a diver, repaired, tuned and replaced.
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Old 08-24-2018, 08:52 AM   #13
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My advice here was going to be to wait for the manager and see what he does before you get too upset about it, or even consider legal recourse. I always start with sugar before I go to vinegar, if you treat most people with respect they will usually reciprocate.


Not much point in talking to the part timer (?) behind the desk if she is not authorized to make decisions other than to tell her what happened and ask for the manager.


Sound like it is going to work out OK.

By the way, I hit some underwater rocks a few years back and bent the heck out of both of my props. It didn't foul up my alignment or bend a shaft so I had them pulled by a diver, repaired, tuned and replaced.
Thanks, Doug. I’m far from litigious, but I was getting a decidedly uncomfortable feeling from the marina help—one a part timer and the other a full-timer—that I spoke to yesterday. The manager could not be more accommodating. He’s paying to have the techs who aligned us come up and reinspect everything as well as for the prop work and the diver. The only thing he can’t replace is the good weather window we’re missing today.
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Old 08-24-2018, 08:55 AM   #14
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I'm glad to hear that the manager is apparently trying to make things right! If everything turns out well, be sure to give him and the marina "props" (pun intended) for their efforts.
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Old 08-24-2018, 09:16 AM   #15
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As a newbie, non-boat owner, what is a ball park cost for these repairs?
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Old 08-24-2018, 09:20 AM   #16
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I'm glad to hear that the manager is apparently trying to make things right! If everything turns out well, be sure to give him and the marina "props" (pun intended) for their efforts.
Definitely.
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Old 08-24-2018, 10:55 AM   #17
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Glad to hear that the manager is taking care of it. I would still notify your insurance company immediately since there could be problems beyond what they find now. I would get it on record so if you have a problem a day or so after you leave this marina your insurance company can fight the issue for you. Good luck.
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Old 08-24-2018, 11:27 AM   #18
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Sounds like that slip should be limited to shallow draft outboards. Compounding that, the manager provided poor instruction regarding the slip for low level help, so I can’t give him too many points, but it sounds like he’s stepping up to repair the damage. Glad it’s working out about as well as a bad situation can.
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Old 08-24-2018, 11:47 AM   #19
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As a newbie, non-boat owner, what is a ball park cost for these repairs?
Depends on the range of damage. If it's just some nicks on the prop it might only be a few hundred dollars. But if there was enough force to deflect the shaft then it could rack up thousands. Remove/realign/replace the shaft, strut (and bearing), through-hull cutlass bearing, etc. None of which comes without pulling the boat from the water and doing the work on the hard.

It's valuable to know your boat's standard levels of noise and vibration. Doesn't take much to bring about a detectable amount of change, but you have to know that's an important thing to keep in mind.
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Old 08-24-2018, 12:46 PM   #20
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Angus, sorry to hear about your issues. I've twice had props removed by a diver without issues. You are fortunate on one hand that it's shallow behind your boat because that gives the diver somewhere to stand or sit while he works on your boat.


I have about 12'-15' beneath the boat. Getting the prop off was not an issue but required two people on the finger docks with lines tied to the blades of the prop to keep it from falling to the bottom. Once the diver slid the prop off the shaft the weight was easily handled by the two guys with lines.


Getting the prop back on presented a different problem because the diver had no place to stand. We suspended an aluminum extension ladder beneath the boat, adjusted to the proper height so the diver could stand on it while he worked, and the ladder was held in place by lines up to the boat cleats. It took awhile to get the ladder positioned properly by it made the job go more quickly because the diver had a fairly solid place to stand.
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