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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #1  
Old 04-23-2006
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Major Problems With Marina

My saga begins LAST YEAR at this time when I was trying to get my 35' Nicholson ready for the season. To make a long story short water somehow entered my diesel tank. When the mechanic tried to start the engine he drew water into the cylinders causing all kinds of problems. The marina, of course, denies any responsibility for the whole matter and the mechanic in question is very ill (hospitalized). Obviously I will move the boat to another marina once some of the boats in front of me are launched. Any lawyers out there or anyone with similar experience who can advise me if I have a case here and what I should and should not do? I believe the yard was negligent and caused all kinds of problems including the need for a new starter, new flywheel, and now the 3 year old engine needs to be yanked out and hopefully the cylinders and such can be rebuilt. Thanks
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Old 04-23-2006
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Your story is not uncommon. Just this past week a friend of mine had his boat worked on by a marina mechanic only to find out yesterday that his stereo is missing. It was here last Saturday... the mechanic works on the boat during the week and the stereo is missing this saturday. The marina denies any responsibility.
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Old 04-23-2006
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It isn't enough for you to simply prove that the mechanic started your motor in the ordinary course of working on the boat. In order to prove them liable, you would have to prove that 1) the mechanic or marina negligently caused the water to get into your diesel fuel, or that 2) they started the motor, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that there was water in the fuel, and that it might be damaged by starting it.

They're not liable merely because something bad happened to your boat when they started it. In order to prove them liable, you have to show that they either caused the damage, or that they started the engine, knowing, or having reasonable cause to believe, that a condition existed that would cause damage to the motor if they started it.

Good luck!
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Old 04-23-2006
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Starting a diesel engine in the course of commissioning a boat for the season is not an uncommon or unexpected thing. Unless you can prove the water in the diesel tank was the fault of the marina, or that the marina had reason to suspect there was water in the fuel tank and started the motor with a "reckless disregard" for whether the water was there or not, you will not have a case against the marina.

If the water in the fuel tank was caused by something other than the marina's actions, like your negligence or poor maintenance, and you did not mention it specifically to the marina staff working on your boat, you could be found negligent yourself. In most states, if you have been negligent and your negligence is found to have contributed to or caused the damage, it is very difficult for you to win a negligence suit against the marina.

You do not mention how the water managed to enter the fuel tank. You do not mention whether you had spoken of your concerns about water being in the fuel tank, or even if you had any such concerns.
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Old 04-23-2006
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Unless you can PROVE that the marina knew about the water in your tank (you have a documanted communication with them regarding this issue, or a work order with the condition clearly stated on it) it will become a "he said/she said" battle that would be trhown out of court.

20/20 hindsight says that a water fuel separator might have helped prevent this, unless the ammount of water involved would have overwhelmed the capacity of the separator.
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Old 04-23-2006
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Not the mechanic's fault...

A mechanic has a right to expect a certain amount of 'due diligence' on the part of the owner and having no fuel filter or not servicing it is not the mechanic's problem.
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Old 04-23-2006
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water

How did the water get into your tank?
eric
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Old 04-23-2006
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Marina Problems

Its unclear how the water got into the tank. Its possible the cap was not secured tightly at the end of the prior season. They topped off the tanks at the end of the season so who is to say whose fault that is. I guess the amount was enough to overwhelm the filter. Thanks for the responses guys; its not what I wanted to hear but I guess I can save money on my legal bills.
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Old 05-09-2006
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Nice Boat Is It For Sale ?
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Old 05-09-2006
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yes it is.
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