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Old 11-01-2016, 01:34 PM   #1
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Locked up trawler

Her in lies my tale of woe.

A little less than 2 months ago I purchased a trawler from a boat donation type agency. I got her for a good price and went in with my eyes wide open.
So far I am not disappointed but as the dust or should I say water clears it seems I was lied to regarding the state of the previous owners dock fees.

The exec for the boat donation company was here in FL so we met at the restaurant at the marina with the previous owner. We inspected the boat and he showed me some things and went to the bank to notarize the USCG bills of sale. Once from the owner to the donation company then the donation company to me.
I asked specifically about the dock fees and was told by the exec that they had an agreement with the dockmaster to give them some leeway while the auction was being conducted.
This was just before hurricane Matthew and with preparations for the hurricane and my not being able to get incs due to a hurricane in the Atlantic the dockmaster told me we will get it figured out after the storm as I let him know the boat was not ready to move and nobody was accepting new boats the week before the storm.

Long story longer now that the storm is passed and I have incs the dockmaster (different from the only one I have dealt with) claims there is over a month outstanding in dock fees that transfers to me.
She has promised to help me but keeps citing company policy and no known agreement to let any dock fees slide for the previous owner.

They have padlocked the boat and I am interested in playing nice even though I do not have a contract with this marina.
I would like to stay there actually.
Do I have any recourse in your opinion with the donation agency or the previous owners if I do have to pay the overdue fees?
One party for lying and the previous owner for the actual late fees.

Thanks,

leebee
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Old 11-01-2016, 01:45 PM   #2
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You are obviously responsible for any fees that the boat incurred from your date of purchase. I believe that unless the marina put a lien on the boat before it was purchased by you, they can't hold you responsible for the POs outstanding bill.

I would tell the marina that you will happily pay for fees that you incurred from the date of the sale but that you are not responsible for the POs bill. Explain that you want to work it out nicely, pay them what YOU owe them, get access to you boat, and see about permanent moorage. If they don't agree, then you will need to spring for an attorney.
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Old 11-01-2016, 02:06 PM   #3
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actually the boat can be arrested(locked up) for unpaid fees. Ships are very different from other things and you would need a maritime lawyer to advise you. Before the bill gets higher I suggest you negotiate the the the dock and get out of there.
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Old 11-01-2016, 02:46 PM   #4
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You're on the losing end of this. The longer you wait to resolve the issue, the more you will owe. Your biggest mistake was not getting a written agreement with the marina. Verbal agreements are worth the paper they're written on in these situations. So, you need to work out something with the marina immediately. Perhaps something like signing a year lease and you'll pay the old fees but they'll give you the 11th and 12th months of the year free.

As to others, what do the contracts say? Did you get a contract that stated they were responsible for any past dock fees or were guaranteeing they were selling it to you debt free? Someone may well be liable to you for only the fees for the time before you owned the boat but with the tangled web of owner to donation company to you it's hard to tell who. You never had any agreement with the prior owner so anything they said to you or did with you really isn't a factor. Next time I'd recommend a title company but, it doesn't sound like the cost here is really anymore than that would have cost, likely less.

These deals with boat donations are always something to be careful of. There was no point in any of this for them to have ever owned the boat. The maximum deduction the PO can get is for the amount you paid. He could have sold it to you and then donated the money. Typically the donation companies do leases for a couple of years.

One month of dock fees is a small amount to lose in a situation like this. Hopefully, there are no outstanding mechanics bills.

Your boat is locked until you reach agreement with the marina. Even if you found a lawyer willing to take the case it would cost you more than you owe.
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Old 11-01-2016, 02:54 PM   #5
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Is the vesseL a documented vessel?

As bayview pointed out they can have some additional twists and turns when it comes to leins.

If the boat is worth more than a couple thousand dollars, I would just pay the fees and if keeping the boat there, try to have the date of the slip contract adjusted a bit to your advantage.

Starting off badly with the marina with only a months slip fee in question might cost you more in the long run.

Be firm with trying to get the right thing done but the total dollars at stake here have to be eyed carefully and for the long run.
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Old 11-01-2016, 06:47 PM   #6
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Talked to Marina

Went over the Dockmasters head. Talked to head office (they have 13 FL marinas.) Stated my case and offered 1 yr lease in leu of po's outstanding dock fees. Sounded positive. Getting confirmation and calling me back tomorrow. Same thing I tried with Dockmaster with mediocre feedback. I like the Marina so no skin off my back. Told her great credit score, homeowner as well boat is properly insured to let her know I was a responsible boat owner.
Either way I'll pay the extra month if I need to. Just unexpected and my principals get in the way.
I'll let you all know.
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Old 11-01-2016, 11:32 PM   #7
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Let's see, a guy walks up to his boat and finds a chain and padlock on it, installed by someone without law-enforcement authority, nor a court order. Hmm, I can think of an alternative way that scenario could have played out.

You seem like a nice, easy going guy Leebee. Glad to hear that it's all working out in the end.
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Old 11-01-2016, 11:52 PM   #8
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Marine Liens do not need law enforcement or court orders. The lien exists as soon as slippage or provisioning is provided and is not quenched by a change of ownership. Arresting the vessel is common and legal. The OP was correct in his handling of the issue.


All Vessel owners need to know this:


In admiralty law, a maritime lien is a privileged claim upon sea-connected property, such as a ship, for services rendered to, or the injuries caused by that property. In common law, a lien is the right of the creditor to retain the properties of his debtor until the debt is paid.
It is a proprietary lien where interest is about the property. It should be understood that “res” may be the vessel (including its appurtenances and equipment), the cargo, the freight or even the proceeds of sale. The rights include jus in re (right on the property) and jus in rem (right against the property). The doctrine of maritime lien is that a ship will be treated as a wrongdoer, not the owner, that the loss, damage or harm is caused by the maritime property, itself, and it has to make good for the loss. The attachment of maritime lien will start when the cause of action arises and will not be eliminated even by change of ownership in a good faith purchase.
Two significant differences between maritime liens, which only exist in admiralty law, and the right to keep that exist in general civil law are (1) that in general civil law, "Prior in time is prior in right", i.e., the rights of the lienholder with the earliest lien are superior to those of later lienholders, whereas in maritime law the rights of the most recent lienholder are superior, and (2) all maritime liens are superior to all non-maritime liens. For instance, in the United States, a federal tax lien, which is a non-maritime lien, is subordinate to every lien for supplies, fuel, repairs, etc., which are all maritime liens.
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Old 11-02-2016, 12:14 AM   #9
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Let's see, a guy walks up to his boat and finds a chain and padlock on it, installed by someone without law-enforcement authority, nor a court order. .
In most jurisdictions, he has a "perfected lien" on the boat. No court order required. Now there are differences between states and the process is different on a documented vessel. Incidentally, a mechanic can lock your car up the same way until you pay what is owed. In the case of boat or car, then you have to go to court to get the lien released.

You think that's bad, the number of cars lost to tow companies and impound with daily storage costs is staggering.

Back to the OP's situation too. If the boat doesn't have a slip rental agreement, then in many situations, the marina can charge a daily fee, basically transient rate. Now, you may be talking thousands instead of hundreds.

Parking garages can do very similar things. I knew someone in NYC who parked overnight in his condo building intending to move the car the following morning. An emergency came up and he rushed out of town. He returned two weeks later and the fee for 14 days was $900. Pay it or don't get out.
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Old 11-02-2016, 07:37 AM   #10
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i have seen this type of auction on ebay if thats where you bought this i would leave a negative feedback for not being truthful for sure
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Old 11-02-2016, 07:47 AM   #11
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Anyone buying a boat needs to assure themselves that all taxes, dockage and repair fees are paid before signing the contract. Then they need to ascertain who pays for dockage from the sale date until it is moved.
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Old 11-02-2016, 07:57 AM   #12
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i have seen this type of auction on ebay if thats where you bought this i would leave a negative feedback for not being truthful for sure
I am waiting to see if I have to pay any of the arrearage before contacting the selling/donation company. I was going to use the feedback system as a gentle nudge to persuade them to reimburse my expense.
As it stands they were the PO on paper and the party responsible before me for the dock fees.
Waiting for the reply from the marina.
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Old 11-02-2016, 08:02 AM   #13
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I think, especially in light of the advice given... that the OP was correct in negotiating with the harbor/marina and paying them.

This happened to me once. Hired a tow company to move a trailer boat from east to west coast. Tow company outsourced the towing, and the actual person towing my boat would not release it until the bill was paid.

I paid him, and filed a lawsuit against the towing company in their local small claims court. Even though airfare, hotel, etc... cost more than my suit I appeared in small claims court, and was awarded a judgement against her, and was happy that she showed up in court. The judge even awarded lost wages for me to show up in court.

Never recovered much, but felt better screwing up her credit for the next seven years.
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Old 11-02-2016, 09:56 AM   #14
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Call from marina

Sooooo got a call from the marina. Seems they have been calling and sending registered letters to the previous owner with no response. Sounds nice of them since they may have no obligation legally. Seems the other Dockmaster remembers the agent of the donation place telling him they would be responsible for all overdue dock fees just as I was told. Yea for me so far but we will see how it all pans out. I forwarded them all the Donation company's contact information and left a message with my contact at the head office.
This just might work out.
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Old 11-02-2016, 10:01 AM   #15
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This just might work out.
It might, but every day you don't pay or settle with the marina you're incurring additional charges, so keep that in mind.
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Old 11-02-2016, 10:07 AM   #16
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In for a penny...

At this time I owe for the month as the marina was in clean up and repair mode after the hurricane and we have been dicking around trying to figure things out once a week when I have been to the boat.
I have no problem starting the yearly lease from when I took possession.
Here she is. Still worth all this hassle.
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Old 11-02-2016, 11:08 AM   #17
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Nice boat. Tell us more about her and welcome aboard.
I think you're doing the right thing by negotiating. Good luck.
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Old 11-02-2016, 11:30 AM   #18
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I got her for a good price and went in with my eyes wide open.
If this doesn't work out with the head office and since you got her for a good price, I'd step up and pay the PO's fees. Then forget about it and go have fun with the boat.

If you do pay those PO charges and stress over it you'll always have that in your mind every time you head out on the boat.

Write it off to "stuff happens" then forget about it and go have fun on your boat. You'll be a LOT happier in the long run.
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Old 11-02-2016, 12:58 PM   #19
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Welll!!!!
Got the call at lunch.
The year lease did it. I am not being held responsible for the POs fees. By the sounds of it I'm not being charged for the last month either. Go figure.
Head office called the Dockmaster and I forwarded the Charity auction contact info to them. Head office has agreed to a year lease at the going rate and they will pursue the collections with no responsibility to pay on my part.
Took a little finagling but all in all the marina went out of their way after the storm and has worked diligently to save me from the POs overdue fees.
Looks like I will be staying at Loggerhead Marina Daytona beach this next year.


Thanks all for your input and information.
If anybody is in the area give me a shout and first drink at Caribbean Jacks is on me!
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Old 11-02-2016, 01:15 PM   #20
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Welll!!!!
Got the call at lunch.
The year lease did it. I am not being held responsible for the POs fees. By the sounds of it I'm not being charged for the last month either. Go figure.
Head office called the Dockmaster and I forwarded the Charity auction contact info to them. Head office has agreed to a year lease at the going rate and they will pursue the collections with no responsibility to pay on my part.
Took a little finagling but all in all the marina went out of their way after the storm and has worked diligently to save me from the POs overdue fees.
Looks like I will be staying at Loggerhead Marina Daytona beach this next year.


Thanks all for your input and information.
If anybody is in the area give me a shout and first drink at Caribbean Jacks is on me!
While no marina is perfect, this marina has a couple of very nice features/benefits going for it. First, the pumpout available at all slips. Second, the reciprocal agreement with all Loggerhead marinas giving you up to 14 days a month. I don't know the details, but with all the marinas they have along the coast, that could be a great benefit when cruising.
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