Abandoned boat in our anchorage - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 22 Old 09-02-2010 Thread Starter
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Abandoned boat in our anchorage

I believe it's a Columbia, very roughly 30 feet.

The boat's been bounced around like a ping pong ball. Someone worked on it last year at a local yard. Then it was tied up to the town dock. Then it was put on a friend's mooring for weeks while the local law enforcement people claimed they couldn't do anything about it. (The analogy was that it was like a car parked in your driveway, they couldn't touch it.) Speculation is that it's belongs to a local -- the marine police know who owns it but don't want to do anything about it. (And this is all heresay and rumors that I've heard.)

Then somebody moved it off the mooring ball and anchored it - single anchor. That was almost 2 months ago. We go through a 360 degree wind shift every 3 days on average. I heard it's a light anchor too. No sign of the owner. [I circled her in my dinghy, no signs of chafe on the anchor line.]

Now with hurricane Earl coming near, I'm wondering if she will end up on the shore in our little lake. There's already one sailboat hull on the shore from many years ago that is now a part of someone's bulwark.

I worry that it will ruin the reputation of us cruisers that like to be there.

Any suggestions appreciated. I think one person wants to take her off shore and sink her. (That would be a real waste and doesn't seems right.) People are eyeing up her brand new mast, inflatable lifeboat, stackpack. That seems like theft.

One person rummaged through the interior and did find a name. Maybe the best bet is for me to get more involved trying to track that person down.

I guess I should also put a second anchor on her tomorrow before Earl comes through. Any problem with my boarding an abandoned boat with the intent of preventing damage to her and other people's property? It feels like tresspassing, but it feels right to help out. (And I don't want a big blue projectile headed toward us in the storm.)

And why does this need to be my problem, when the 5 or 6 marine patrol entities here have such a good presence checking registrations and holding tank valves? I really don't understand that at all. There's no registration, no name on the boat. Not sure it matters, but it's a charted anchorage.

I need some advice on this one. This is a ticking time bomb waiting to cause a mishap. There's no solar panel so when the bilge pump battery dies, she'll sink in 8 to 10 feet of water, in an area that has a lot of waterskiing and tubing. Underwater, that rigging will be murderous.


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Last edited by Bene505; 09-02-2010 at 12:29 PM.
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post #2 of 22 Old 09-02-2010
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Take a look at this: http://www.experts123.com/q/how-to-c...ned-boats.html

You have to figure out the laws for your state, but if you jump through the hoops, she could be yours :-)
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post #3 of 22 Old 09-02-2010
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There are about 137 boats like than in the Northport,Centerport,Huntington area and when they end up on the beach they get broken up

The law will track them down AFTER but its a bit grey before

There is also a lot of slack becasue most of the fishing fleet is such a mess

This one was by my boat TWO years winter and all before it made land

1970 Cal 29 Sea Fever

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post #4 of 22 Old 09-02-2010
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Tow her out on a dark night and sink her!

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Hey, can one of you guys pass me a crab?

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post #5 of 22 Old 09-02-2010
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Hi Brad,
I'd be wary of adding an anchor because it seems like it could expose you to some liability if she breaks loose later and damages someone's property, although in many ways it's probably the best thing to do. Someone around here should know if that is a legitimate concern. I wish I could give you better advice. Btw, it was nice to meet you this summer. Are you going to ride out the storm on the boat?

Pearson 33-2
Western Long Island Sound
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post #6 of 22 Old 09-02-2010
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Brad, your state laws will be paramount and not knowing which state that boat is in....

Cars and boats are both "titled" property, so they are alike in that sense. What comes to mind is that the trespass laws and arrest laws also will be applied equally to them. That is, if someone parks a car on my lawn, that is an act of trespass, and the owner of the titled property is nominally responsible to remove the offending object, even if they didn't put it there.

The police (land or water) would have a responsibility to contact that owner, since the title records and ownership are readily available to them, and in doing so they are also protecting the property and interests of that owner--as well as the victim of the trespass.

This is where reality interudes, because they are all under orders to work zero overtime. Unless they're about to retire, in which case the brass turns a blind eye and encourages them to work max overtime to build up their pension hours.

So they'll do nothing, because they've got higher priorities. In such a case you can sometimes motivate them by telling them, quietly, that you understand the priorities but if they refuse to act, you may have to go over their heads and report them for dereliction of duty, misfeasance, or malfeasance, and you wouldn't want to be forced to do that.

Of course right now, if it is simply a boat at anchor....and there's nothing illegal or dangerous about the way it is riding....there's not much you can do to force any action. State laws usually require registration numbers though, and you usually can file a request for the registrant information from your state DMV or other agency, typically $5-25 and a piece of paper available online are all it takes. Or a trip to your local motor vehicle/boating office.

An abandoned boat?? Again, check you state laws, they are often very specific about when and how titled vehicles can be considered abandoned.
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post #7 of 22 Old 09-02-2010
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From my very limited experience in stuff like this, doing nothing is the only thing that you really can do. Whatever you do will make you liable. If you add an anchor or move it to a more secure spot and something happens you will be blamed. In the litigious society that we live in some lawyer will spin it to where it absolutely had to be your fault. Probably all you can really do is hope that the wind blows it up on the bank where it become derelict and then the authorities/marina owner will have to deal with it.
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post #8 of 22 Old 09-02-2010
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I am the dock master at a marina in Maryland. Not only do I have issues with anchored boats being abandoned near our marina (making my slip holders nervous) I have people who just pull into empty slips and leave their boats. Legally removing these boats from my marina is a royal PITA. I have been in process (waiting on the DNR) for over 1.5 years. Meanwhile I have three slips I cannot rent. The advice I was given by the "water police" was to cut the boat loose without witnesses. This way, when the abandoned boat causes damage they could get involved. I did not do this and am still waiting on the DNR to get my paperwork done.

Fall of 2008 there was a boat poorly anchored during a storm and it started to drag towards on of my slip holders. During the storm when it got close enough the boat owner any myself moved the anchored boat (which was very neglected and no one saw anyone on it in months) to a nearby open slip to ride the rest of the storm out. After the storm I moved it to a less desirable slip. A week later the owner appeared and filed a suit against me and the marina for damage we supposedly caused to the boat. After our lawyers spoke with his the suit was quickly dropped.

The moral of the story is if you are witnessed doing anything to an anchored boat you can be liable for any damages it causes. At least in MD.

Last edited by nickmerc; 08-18-2011 at 06:29 AM.
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post #9 of 22 Old 09-02-2010
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The laws and governing authorities seem to be nothing but trouble. Sometimes you have to work around the law, not with the law.

If the boat has no registration numbers and no identification at all then it is not titled property, so I suppose how to handle the situation would depend on that.

Whatever you do to the boat -- move it, add an anchor or whatever, NOBODY has to know that you did it. Nobody will ever know if you stop by at night and don't tell anybody.

What happens if you come by at night and remove all identification information from it?

Can you find the phone number of the owner and give him a call from a pay phone, anonymously? Tell him that his boat is not properly maintained and is in danger of causing damage to other people's property when the hurricane comes. If he says he won't do anything about it then tell him that you have a friend who needs a boat for a year and he is going to go ahead and start using it . What I just said was a common sense approach to handling the problem, not a legal approach.

REALLY, wouldn't using the boat be a whole lot better idea than taking it out and sinking it!!! If you use it make sure anything that would identify it to the previous owner is removed during the time that you use it. Then you can call the guy who owns it from a pay phone when you're done and tell him where you've left it If were that guy, I would be much happier if someone took the boat and sold it and gave me some of the money instead of just sinking it as some here suggest suggest.

Whatever you do to this boat is going to probably be illegal. So while you're at it, just go ahead and use it for something good.
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post #10 of 22 Old 09-02-2010
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If the boat is truly abandoned, contact the USCG, and tell them it is a hazard to navigation. The fact that the boat is not legally registered could be taken as evidence of abandonment.

As for going aboard and putting another anchor out...I wouldn't do it. It can leave you liable for any damage caused by this boat should it break free and drag down on someone else's boat.

Scuttling it or salvaging things off of it are probably illegal. Using abandoned boat laws to gain title to it would allow you to salvage it or dispose of it legally.


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You know what the first rule of sailing is? ...Love. You can learn all the math in the 'verse, but you take
a boat to the sea you don't love, she'll shake you off just as sure as the turning of the worlds. Love keeps
her going when she oughta fall down, tells you she's hurting 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.

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