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  #1  
Old 07-26-2010
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Responsibility

Hey folks. Been awhile since I posted here but I have a question.....

We had a nasty storm herelast wednesday in the springs, longisland, ny. Call it a down draft or microburst or tornado, but it did lots of damage to trees and homes and of course my boat! I keep her at a neighbors dock down the street. Pay for it of course.

Anyway, the storm ripped through. I wasnt home. I got a call from a neighbor telling me my house was ok (a tree went through his roof) and I asked him about my boat. Turns out she wasnt at the dock. She was careened bout a 100-feet away in the wetlands. I ran down there as fast as I could, which included driving as close as I could get, then jogging about a mile through peoples back yards and jumping over downed trees and such. The road was closed, powerlines down and whatnot.

I finally get to my boat. High tide, and she was up there pretty good. I missed a big rock near the dock and she settled into the spartina alterniflora (soft landing in the wetlands). All the lines were attached to the boat still and at the end of each of the four lines were the cleats! She pulled the cleats out. Turns out the neighbor only screwed the cleats in with 4" wood screws. 2.0" to go through the cleat, 1" to go through the deck, so the screw was maybe 1" into a 2x4.

Now shame on me for not checking the cleats. But I am a newish boater. I should have known better, but I didnt (now I do). But I have to wonder, does the property owner (carpenter who built the docks himself) bear any of the blame here? Docks are otherwise super sturdy, but the cleat was obviously the weak link. Nobody elses boat ripped out the cleats.

Had file an insurance claim. 1k deductable. I asked the property owner to pay for half. He got mad. I pay 3k to keep the boat their for the season. No electric or anything.

What do you guys think?

To be honest, Im just glad I didnt drift up the harbor a little and bounce into the millions of dollars worth of boats at Harbor Marina. That would have really sucked.

-Shawn
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Last edited by inthesprings; 07-26-2010 at 08:07 AM.
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  #2  
Old 07-26-2010
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Traditionally the boat owner is almost always responsible for how their boat is tied up. (the exception being if a yard moves your boat and ties it off in your absense and without your permission) If you are permanently mooring your boat you should examine what you are tying to and if you are not certain how the cleats are installed, then as the boat owner it is your responsibility to verify with the dock owner how the cleats are installed and if the method of istallation seems inadequate then I would ask permission to install the cleats properly or install your own cleats.

I personally do not like permanently tying up a boat to cleats because you rarely do not know how they are installed. I generally try to tie to pilings or the struural components of the dock. In one of the few cases where the nature of the pier was did not permit tying to structure components (flating docks in Georgia) I installed my own cleats by bolting ledgers to the cross frames and through bolting through the decking and through those ledgers. The marina owner was actually appreciative and encouraged other owners to do the same.

Sorry,

Jeff
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Old 07-26-2010
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Shaun, I think asking your neighbor (neighbor after all!) to pay your deductible was a mistake. You chose the dock. You had the opportunity to inspect it. You still elected to tie your boat there.

Dave
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Old 07-26-2010
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Although it seems that your carpenter neighbor has little understaning of the loads of boats...you would be the responsible party. Your boat...check the fittings. Sorry
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Old 07-26-2010
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agree

Quote:
Originally Posted by dhays View Post
Shaun, I think asking your neighbor (neighbor after all!) to pay your deductible was a mistake. You chose the dock. You had the opportunity to inspect it. You still elected to tie your boat there.

Dave
I agree. Unfortunately it was a bit of a costly learning experience.

I never tie up someone's boat for them even when I help with their docking by taking their lines as they come in. I always hold the line and give it to them for tying up. The same goes for your responsibility to assure your boat is secured properly.
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Old 07-26-2010
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I'm split on this one. The dock owner accepts some responsiblity when they charge you to keep your boat there. If there was no money involved, than no, they owe you nothing. But since they have made $3000 off of you throughout the year, a helpers $500 doesn't seem out of the question. It won't fly in court (not without a great lawyer) but that's the way I see it.

Shame on both of you. Neither one inspected the attachments.
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Old 07-26-2010
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In the UK there would be no question on this.

The dock owner is providing a service which he is charging for.

If you can show that there is negligance somewhere [screws only 1 inch into wood qualify IMHO ] then the dock owner is responisble. [ Doctrine of the reasonable man taking reasonable care. ]

I would expect a slam dunk in the UK and in the country where someone got sued and lost for providing hot coffee then I can not see the difficulty here. The dock owner is responsible.
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Old 07-26-2010
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Pay a lawyer $$$$, get your deductable back $$$$ you may break even. Now there is a good chance you neighbour probably does not want to see/have your boat on his dock or have you coming through his yard in the future. So before you start this action, find a commercial marina that’s not more than an hour’s drive or more away and be prepared to pay a lot more $$$$$$ for the privilege.
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Old 07-27-2010
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Huh. Funny, I didnt think I should feel ashamed. Feeling pretty frigging stupid in hindsight, but nobody really tells you these things. Since I'm paying good money specifically to tie my boat off there, you would think it would be up to the task. Maybe Im a little English at heart. Certainly not going to sue the guy or anything like that. I just thought some of the liability was on him since he built the dock and was renting it to me.

So I returned to find that the dock was "fixed" and new cleats installed. They appear to be undersized for my boat and although they are now lag bolted, when I grab either side of the cleat, I can torque it back and forth. Certainly not solid. He went ahead an tied me off on the new cleats. Going to have to do it myself I guess. I tied the boat off on the dock structure itself. If anything nasty is forecast, extra lines will go in the piles.

Oh well. It is an expensive lesson and that won't happen again. I hope.
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Old 07-27-2010
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Here' my story

I take care of an 80 foot sunship ( Im the engineer ) and during the winter we had a storm blow thru with 60 mph winds and waves washing over the docks. the boat ripped one of the dock cleats out and luckily the spring lines held it from moving to far. In the contract with the marina it states that the boat owner is liable for any damage that his/her boat does to the docks. I ended up doing the repairs myself and working with the marina to reduce cost to the owner.

Mitch
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