Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: West Michigan
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Most often, 'not able to get the title' is the same as 'hasn't tried'.
Many yard owners will not attempt to get the title for an abandoned boat unless they actually have someone interested in it, or if it's a boat that's in demand and easily sold. Because once it is theirs, it's inventory they have to pay property taxes on, along with the transfer fees. Plus, once it's theirs they are also 100% responsable for it.
As long as it doesn't belong to the yard, anything that happens is the owner's responsability. Barring 'reasonable care' requirements. As long as it is the owners boat, all they have to do is put it out of the way, and make sure it's not going to fall over. which is why most abandoned boats are in an out of the way area of the yard
If you're interested in a boat, discuss it with one of the people in the office, many yard workers are not in the loop so really don't know what's really going on with the boats.
Make a reasonable offer, they have already lost money on the boat so aren't always interested in getting market value. (If they were, the boat would already be theirs with a for sale sign on it) if they start talking about how much is owed on the boat you can normally ignore any figures they state.
Be aware though, that many people bring sails and other removables home with them when they put a boat up for the season, so you may NOT have the chance to get them. (one boat I bought had the POs information inside, I contacted him and was able to get the sails and other equipment free after purchasing the boat. Turns out he had sold the boat but the new owner never took possession)
Occasionally you'll find a boat that has all the fees paid up, but it's been unused for a few years, those are the boats that it's best to find the owner, the yard can't do more than forward your contact info or give you theirs though.
Best course is to ask about 'the old boat out back' not what do they want for that "28ft whizzgig supersailor".Either way you'll often get a figure for it, but one way you'll get a price, the other they'll most often say look it over and make an offer.
Don't act ignorant, but don't act like you know everything about boats either. Act ignorant and you turn yourself into a mark, act too knowledgeable, and they'll often think they must have missed something important about the boat.