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Old 04-16-2021, 12:57 PM   #20
Veteran Member
City: Cape Canaveral
Vessel Name: Moonstruck
Vessel Model: 1990 52' Californian
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 49
I agree with most of the comments but want to warn everyone that just because a vessel is documented it doesn't mean there are no hidden liens. Maritime liens are created as soon as the vessel benefits from the services of a vendor, crew member or the vessel causes damage to the environment, another vessel or dock, etc. Mortgages are another category if they are not recorded (Think "loan from Uncle Fred to buy the boat"). We call these unrecorded liens "dirty little secrets" in my business. We always hope that all liens are recorded. We know that many times they are not. Remember, not all vessels are documented. A lot of maritime lawyers chase vessels and, when they are located, have them arrested to get a lien satisfied for a client. Recently a couple purchased a vessel from its "owner". The owner had a mortgage but hid that fact by creating a fraudulent title. The couple was enjoying the boat when a maritime attorney and U.S. Marshal came walking down the dock to arrest the vessel on behalf of the bank. The couple didn't use a broker or pay for an abstract of title from the USCG. ($25.00) The vessel had been documented in the past. Most banks require that if you want a mortgage. The couple had to grab their personal belongings and leave. The vessel was arrested and delivered to a substitute custodian. The couple had to defend the action against the vessel and post a large bond to get the vessel released from the custodian. They had to pay a maritime attorney to represent their interests in the vessel. Ultimately they were forced to pay everything or forfeit the vessel at auction. The "owner"/seller had spent all of the money by the time he was located. Criminal prosecution was little solace for the defrauded couple. Do not assume abstracts of title are accurate or that liens do not exist. The only way to avoid them completely is to buy a vessel at a U.S. Marshal's auction. Due diligence is so important!
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