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post #1 of 3 Old 11-06-2005 Thread Starter
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Damaged Boat

My mooring at the marina dragged about 40 yards during a storm. It knocked into other boats along the way causing damage to our boat and at least one other. The damage to our boat consisted of fiberglass damage on the hull and toerail and several stanchions on both sides of the boat significantly bent.

The marina bent the stanchions back into place, but I am not sure if this is a sufficient fix as the structural integrity of bent metal is permanently compromised. They did this before we had the opportunity to take pictures for insurance purposes. I don''t believe they intend to charge me but I would prefer that the stanchions be replaced. Am I correct or is bending them back sufficient?? Any advice from more expereinced sailors would be appreciated.

Other relevant information:
1) We were the only boat in the marina that dragged. Our boat is in a protected harbor on LI Sound. The storm was not a hurricane. Winds of 30-45mph w/ gusts over 50. I would expect a mooring to hold in these conditions.
2) They failed to contact one of the other boat owners who sustained damage ecven though I pointed out the damage to them (a piece of his rubrail was found on my boat). I am suspicious that they were hoping the other owner would never find out that his damage was the result of a dragged mooring. Unfortunately for the marina, I ran into the other owner the next weekend at the dock and explained what happened.

I am troubled by my marina''s response to this incident. I am looking for independent advice on how I should proceed re the stanchion damage and if I should take it a step further and have a surveyor look at the boat for more serious damage.

Thank you for your help.

Brian O''Connor
Catalina 310
Anam na Mara
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post #2 of 3 Old 11-07-2005
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Damaged Boat

Brian, from a neutral corner I think you have reason to be disappointed in your marina...but also in yourself, if your post is the extent of what you''ve done so far.

First, does your boat have hull insurance? I assume not but you don''t say. If yes, you start with them.

Second, have you photodocumented the damage to both boats and the location of the mooring? If not, do so. Have you written up a statement of the damage done to your boat, the location you found the mooring and other details such as not being contacted by the marina, the marina altering the condition of your boat without being authorized, etc. Do you have a written statement from the other owner (preferably notarized). Do you have weather data (preferably from NOAA or another well-established source) detailing the conditions for your area? All of these steps take time but are the basis for you seeking redress; it''s pretty obvious from the marina''s performance to date that you can''t just expect to have this addressed with a chat.

Third, you seem fixated on your stanchions yet mention hull and toerail fiberglass damage; my advice is to think ''resale''. If your stanchions show evidence of being bent (and they no doubt do...) and/or your hull damage must be professionally repaired, you have losses as well as incovenience visited on you by the events which unfolded.

Fourth, what does your lease state re: rights waived and assumed liability of the marina (who I assume, tho'' you don''t say it outright, is the owner/operator of the mooring field)? The language in the lease does not necessarily define your rights but it''s important to understand to what you agreed re: performance of the mooring and how they defined the limits of their liability.

My guess is that you have two options open to you, neither being quick and both taking some time & effort on your part...so right now, decide if this is something you wish to make a personal priority. First, you should ask to be referred to the marina''s insurance carrier''s claim office so you can file a claim under their policy for damage caused by their mooring field failing to perform as represented by the marina. Whether the marina folks wish to go this route - as opposed to resolving it directly with you - or not, you can probably learn who their carrier is via city offices BUT...if the marina wants to discuss a resolution, I''d give that a shot first. If not, I''d approach the carrier and ask to file a claim.

Depending on how this progresses (it may not if everyone turns a deaf ear; insurance companies do stonewall what they view as nuisance claims), you may want to consider an ''after the fact'' claim in Small Claims Court. There will be a filing fee (small) and a ceiling on the damages to be claimed. Usually, this is a very straightforward process where legalese is less important than having your evidence clear and your rationale for redress sensible. Expect your documentation and the lease to be central to the judge''s finding.

Finally, there are strength in numbers. I''d determine whether the other boat owner could/would be a useful ally and, if so, work this through as a team. The marina will see this differently than just you, standing at their counter with a worried look on your face.

Good luck and keep us posted...

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post #3 of 3 Old 11-07-2005
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Damaged Boat

I think the above advice is very usefull. Especially the bit about photo-documenting EVERYTHING.

To answer the one area I can speak with a bit of authority on, the Stanchions are either weakened to a greater or lesser degree or not. It all depends on how they repaired them. IF by "repair" you mean some dock monkey jumped aboard with a pair of vice grips and a length of pipe and levered them back while they were still bolted to the deck...then they have been flawed and weakened and I would be hessitent to trust them (though if the bend was like 5degrees or something, then it will not harm them).

If the stanchions were removed form the boat, properly heated to a meleable tempreture, bent back to straight and then heated and cooled so as to shrink the stretched and stressed area back into shape, before being normalised and then (being stainless) chemically treated post heating and then re-polished before being re-bedded and bolted to the deck....I would say they are as good as new.

If you do not know how badly bent they were when the damage occured, before someone tried to fix them, then you may need to asses what the term "LIFE lines" means to you and how much you want to trust the first method of repair.


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