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Old 03-19-2004
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Got my title for the 30 footer..

John 232

With all due respect, this should not be about whether the boat ends up being visibly damaged or whether it passes survey, or whether or not the title says, "Salvage", it is about selling a boat in a fair and truthful manner. It is about simple honesty.

When you ground a boat hard enough to damage a keel, and especially when it is a lightly built boat like your Schock, there are very high stresses imparted into every bit of the boat. Rigging is stressed beyond its normal loadings. Bulkhead attachment points are also greatly stressed, as are fiberglass fibers which are elongated beyond their usual levels. Fiberglass repairs involve secondary bonds which are weaker than the primary bonds that are formed when a boat is constructed, and proper repairs by definition add weight to a boat that is certainly more than that of original construction. Saltwater has permiated areas of the boat that have limited access and so are more prone to mildew and dry rot. As I explained to you when you were getting ready to buy this boat, in theory this boat is not as strong or resistant to flexure, it is more prone to fatigue and will not have the same service life as a sistership that has not been subjected to that level of stress. These are not things that will necessarily show up on a survey but are a real life deminishment to the value of the boat.

Previous owners of the boat that I currently own had sustained two major collisions with the boat. The damage from both were repaired by very high quality boatyards and in neither case is the damage visible to a buyer or surveyor, yet the damage was disclosed so that I could research the repairs, and advise my surveyor to be aware that the damage had occurred.

In negotiating the price of the boat, I also researched this issue with a number of surveyors, and brokers. There was near unanimity that even on a boat that was repaired so that the repairs were completely invisible, the boat suffered some loss of value. The nearly unanimous conscensus was that a perfectly repaired boat had a fair market value worth somewhere between 10% to 15% less than a boat that had not been damaged in the first place and that this reduction in value was for the rest of the life of the boat.

There was also a feeling that if a boat was ever sunk (even partially), there was greater depreciation than if it was not. I heard two separate stories of boats that had partially sunk for non-structural reasons (a frozen intake hose and a boat launched with the packing removed from the stuffing box gland and by accident not replaced at launch)and in both cases, although the boats showed pristine they were harder to sell and ultimately sold at a lower price. There was some feeling that with time the amount of increased depreciation would lessen a little if the repairs remained invisble and showed no further sign of movement.

If you think that the boat is good as new after the repairs then you should demonstrate the strength of your convictions and disclose the grounding and sinking. In the case of my boat, the yards that did the repair explained why the repairs should be considered better than the original construction and why after studying the repairs vs the original construction I concluded that in one case they were right but in the other case the repairs probably had equal strength but added some additional weight. When I bought the boat, the sales price was adjusted downward to accomodate the fact that the boat had been damaged and I intend to fully disclose the damage when I sell the boat.

While, as Stede accurately points out, it is not for me or anyone else to judge your actions, from everything that I know from carefully researching this subject, in my opinion selling a boat that has had major damage, and a sinking without full disclosure is tantamount to out and out fraud. It is the moral equivelient to purposely turning back an odometer. It is not for me to judge your actions , but despite whatever other rationalization that you might be able to muster on this, after following the online description of your salvage program, it would be my opinion that selling this boat without full disclosure would be a blatantly fraudulent action no matter what the surveys or titles disclosed at time of sale. Of course, in the end, the final decision regarding the level of dishonesty that you are comfortable living with is solely up to you but I would think that any knowledgeable sailor would say that failure to disclose what has happened to your boat at time of sale is clearly an extremely dishonest act.

Respectfully,
Jeff
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