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post #41 of 54 Old 04-04-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Venting about homemade boat registration in Pennsylvania

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...
I disagree with the sentiment that government is always incompetent. You have a variety of people with different experience levels, and when you hit them with an unusual case, you'll get different answers from different people. Same thing happens in the private sector.
...
Yes, and I think that's exactly what is going on here. I am of the opinion that these folks are NOT incompetent. When they get something unfamiliar, though, it throws a wrench in their process, and suddenly a bunch of review and other people need to get inovlved. The person handling the form on the way in is trying to do their job, but requires other people to make that happen. So we wait, and I'll probably end up talking to multiple people, and possibly having to explain things to multiple people. I was frustrated that I had to go through the regulations to prove to myself that there wasn't anything on the books that I could see that would prevent this, but that doesn't help the people on the other end resolve what they may have been told by management on the issue. Management makes mistakes sometimes. Regulations are sometimes hard to interpret. I get it. There's two people in that particular office on any given day, and I'm 100% positive that they are not sitting around throwing paper airplanes (or floating paper boats?) all day long.


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Maybe things are different in the northwest part of the state, but here in SE PA, enforcement of out-of-state registrations seems lax. They don't come out with binoculars like they do in MD. So if you absolutely can't get it done it PA, you might just consider registering in OH and keeping her in PA. Then you can make another attempt to register in the future (but keep your tax receipts from OH to avoid paying twice).
...
Given the concentration of commercial and recreational boats in the Erie harbor, I would be surprised if PAFBC didn't send enforcement officers around to the marinas more than occasionally. I know they are quite active on the local lake where we keep our beach cat and kayaks, and they're out almost every day in vehicles and boats with binoculars looking for fishing and boating violations. Erie runs a lot of fishing charters and I think still has a few commercial fishing vessels, and has marina spaces that number into the 1k+ range. The Coast Guard has a station there and they are often out patrolling the bay and surrounding waters, so I can see PAFBC doing the same.

And, really, I don't want to run afoul of these folks. I just want to give the PAFBC their registration fee, and the Commonwealth their sales and use tax, and get my paper card and sticker for the boat. I'll do the out of state thing if I need to buy time, which might have to happen because the boat is going to be forced to launch here soon (it's in storage at the previous owner's yacht club, and they have to launch boats in sequence because of how they're stored).


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I do need to warn you that there are two wholly separate taxing entities in PA, and you need to understand the nuances. PAFBC does boat registrations, and is pretty lax about bringing your boat into PA waters. 60 days is allowed, and I think you can get away with longer. However, PA Department of Revenue is very strict about entering the state, and will want your sales/use tax dollars (which makes it ironic that they're refusing to collect them).
...
Somewhat amusingly, the PA Department of Revenue used to come after the previous owner every couple of years to try to collect taxes on the boat. He constantly had to argue that he bought all of the materials and built it, and therefore did not owe any further taxes.

I just want to give these people money. I suppose I might also contact my state reps and tell them that their own commission is currently refusing to take my money. They would probably have an issue with that.

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post #42 of 54 Old 04-04-2019
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Re: Venting about homemade boat registration in Pennsylvania

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...I suppose I might also contact my state reps and tell them that their own commission is currently refusing to take my money. They would probably have an issue with that....
Definitely start with your own reps. But you might also reach out to Steve Barrar in District 160. He's a sailor (last I talked to him, he owned a Catalina 320) who keeps his boat in Maryland, so may have some knowledge of how the system works. I had some questions about documentation and registration of my boat awhile ago and he had some useful advice.

https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs...bio.cfm?id=127
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Re: Venting about homemade boat registration in Pennsylvania

When a person builds a boat from plans (or from a kit), they need an equivalent to the "production" HIN. In my state, which is a 'full title' state, this adds a step where a local LEO has to put eyes on the vessel and fill out a short form certifying that it's real and the situation is authentic.
The whole point to this is to make it difficult for crooks to create a title for a stolen vessel.

Case in point: A friend of mine built a lovely inboard 24 foot cabin cruiser in his back yard, and then scheduled a short visit from a bemused state trooper to take care of this. And so a title was created and a state-generated 'HIN" was provided to place on the boat.
The officer told him he only occasionally did one of those visits, and it was a welcomed low stress part of his day!

I would imagine that something like this gets done in most (all?) states, and that the builder took care of that when he finished the construction and then certified to the USCG that he was the (ancient terminology) Mater Carpenter that created it.

Regardless, once you have a title, you should be good to go....
Separate from all that, most (all?) states have vessel registration with either bow numbers or at least a requirement to display a registration sticker on the hull.

In my little tiny state, the money raised from this registration system goes into operating an independent boating agency that not only oversees titling but also uses our money to build docks and launch facilities in all of our water ways.

It's fashionable to throw rocks at governments and decry fees and "taxation" but at least for us the $$ we spend comes back to us to a pretty good degree. Hope it's the same where you boat.
Perhaps it's just a matter of finding an employee (or supervisor) that has any experience with your seldom-heard-of question.
Good luck and fair winds to you.

Apropos of whatever, I have done an overnight ocean delivery on a Jason 35. Really Great (!) design with an easy motion.
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Re: Venting about homemade boat registration in Pennsylvania

Interesting thread. No insult to those posting here but some of the advice is good, some bad, and some ridiculous. I spent a good portion of my life working as a civilian engineer in the USCG Office of Boating Safety and situations like this were all too frequent. Almost always I told them, the one thing I learned a long time ago while in a Coast Guard Uniform, take it too the top! I spent a good portion of that time talking to people at the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. You have done well to actually look up the laws, but you need to go one step further. Every state has a person at a high level in the state called a Boating Law Administrator. The name is what it implies. This person is responsible for all boating laws in that state. You need to talk to him (in this case it is a him) Here's a link to his office and to the people that work for him. https://www.nasbla.org/nasblamain/ab...s/pennsylvania
If they can't sort this out then you can try some more outlandish resolution which just may backfire down the road when you decide to sell the boat. Trying to get around the law is never a good idea. It almost always ends up meaning someone has to do a lot of extra paperwork, and costing you money. Best thing is to go to those who know what the rules are and can tell you how to accomplish what you need to do.

My boat isn't homemade but it's old enough it never had a HIN and even though I administered the regulations on HIN's for the whole darn country, I had to go to the BLA in Washington state to get one. Low level functionaries often don't know anything beyond the level of their job. (I know, I have been one, and I was constantly having to intercede with my co-workers to get it right)

By the way the Home Port on a Documented vessel is irrelevant. Now that I am retired I visit Port Townsend in Washington State frequently because it is a big boatbuilding/repair/boating center. There is a sailboat there that always gives me a chuckle. It's home port is Bozeman, Montana. There is no water big enough to accommodate this boat within hundreds of miles of Bozeman. No the Coast Guard doesn't care what homeport you put on the transom as long as your paper work is in order and matches.
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Some states do not require USCG documented be registered. Fewer and fewer....

A “Jason” ? What is the 12 digit Hull ID. ? I don’t remember if you mentioned the year of the boat. Prior to 1972 the hull identification numbers were spotty at best. Regardless, the federal requirement is that a 12 digit hull identification number be on the starboard transom or is near there about on the starboard side of the hull.
If Jason does not have a manufactures identification, the hull identification number should be basically three letters with a Z..A home built boat in North Carolina typically would be NCZ and nine more characters ending with the commissioning year. Virginia -VAZ.
What does the documentation certificate say?

How does Pennsylvania know the boat is home built? In the line for manufacturer you put in Jason and duck.

And remember my two favorite words for any bureaucracy: “supervisor please“.
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Re: Venting about homemade boat registration in Pennsylvania

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Interesting thread. No insult to those posting here but some of the advice is good, some bad, and some ridiculous.
I honestly expect this and do my best to filter while reading.



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I spent a good portion of my life working as a civilian engineer in the USCG Office of Boating Safety and situations like this were all too frequent. Almost always I told them, the one thing I learned a long time ago while in a Coast Guard Uniform, take it too the top! I spent a good portion of that time talking to people at the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. You have done well to actually look up the laws, but you need to go one step further. Every state has a person at a high level in the state called a Boating Law Administrator. The name is what it implies. This person is responsible for all boating laws in that state. You need to talk to him (in this case it is a him) Here's a link to his office and to the people that work for him. https://www.nasbla.org/nasblamain/ab...s/pennsylvania
You just rose to near the top on my awesome humans list. This is exactly what I needed to know! It is hard not being able to see up the hierarchy. I didnít know this person existed. Now I have a good path forward, if the office canít resolve this on their own! Regardless, now I think I just want to contact him to see what the real answer is.


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If they can't sort this out then you can try some more outlandish resolution which just may backfire down the road when you decide to sell the boat. Trying to get around the law is never a good idea. It almost always ends up meaning someone has to do a lot of extra paperwork, and costing you money. Best thing is to go to those who know what the rules are and can tell you how to accomplish what you need to do.
Definitely uninterested in outlandish resolutions. I want to ďpay the manĒ and be 100% on the up-and-up.


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My boat isn't homemade but it's old enough it never had a HIN and even though I administered the regulations on HIN's for the whole darn country, I had to go to the BLA in Washington state to get one. Low level functionaries often don't know anything beyond the level of their job. (I know, I have been one, and I was constantly having to intercede with my co-workers to get it right)
The boat has a hull ID on the CG builderís certification that was part of the initial documentation submission before she was launched. That hull ID is also on the boat itself, of course. For those who have asked, she was completed in 1990 and launched in 1991, so the hull ID was required.

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Re: Venting about homemade boat registration in Pennsylvania

Glad to be of help. I used to know all of the BLA's but I have been retired now for 14 years and all the folks I knew have moved on. PA always had their own way of doing things. Used to be, if your boat was documented with the USCG you didn't have to worry about the state. But in the 70's and 80's all that changed. The states want the tax revenue, especially states with a personal property tax, so the rules were changed. Now you have to register your boat with "the state of principle use", which is generally defined as where you keep the boat, but not necessarily. Many states have laws that say if it's in the state for 90 days or more you have to register it. (unless you are active duty military, and in some states it's 60 days) At least one state actually patrols marinas looking for boats with out of state registrations or homeports and if it's there too long they get a nastygram saying they owe money. It's gotten complicated.

By the way, there is a person in the PA BLA office who handles Titling and Registration. She doesn't actually do it, she oversees the administration of it, but should know what the state laws are.
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Re: Venting about homemade boat registration in Pennsylvania

Interesting.

We have a boat manufactured 1985 in the UK. No hull ID. Always kept it in Delaware, but not registered in De. Wilmington, DE is home port for USCG registration. Although our legal residence is in PA we never have had it in PA waters let alone moored or docked.

We are now in Caribbean.

Is there some legal requirement to have a HIN?

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Re: Venting about homemade boat registration in Pennsylvania

The short answer is Yes. But the it gets more complicated. All recreational boats manufactured or imported into the US for the purpose of sale are required to have a HIN. That's been the law since 1972. By the way it's the same in the UK since they adopted the Recreational Craft Directive sometime in the 90's, but who knows what will happen if they BREXIT? Anyway. The states have also been assigning home built and older vintage or antique boats HINs. So really all you need to do when you return to the states is go to the office that registers boats in Delaware and ask for an HIN. Bring the boat's paperwork. They'll have you fill out a form certifying it is an imported or vintage boat and you'll have to pay a fee. In Delaware it's based on the boats length. Then mount a little plaque on the transom and another somewhere else inside the boat. Delaware isn't a big tax state so I don't know if there will be any taxes. After that, if Delaware is a title state they will send you a new title with the HIN on it. Delaware Boat Registration Information
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Re: Venting about homemade boat registration in Pennsylvania

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...Regardless, now I think I just want to contact him to see what the real answer is...
Hold your horses, if it's not too late. I'm not sure I agree with the advice to go straight to the top.

You need ONE PERSON to agree with you and put your paperwork through. If you start at the bottom and work your way up, you get several chances at this. It you go straight to the top, you get ONE CHANCE, and if he rules against you, you're hosed.

I don't know how large and hierarchical an organization PAFBC is. It's possible they're really small (since PA isn't a big boating state, though they are a pretty big lake fishing state), and one of the underlings may go to the top guy anyway, since his cushy office might be right next to their tiny cubicle. So it's your call.

But I can tell you from decades of corporate experience that sometimes you come to regret going "right to the top" too quickly. Definitely go to the top if you need to, but if you have time, you might do better taking several shots at getting approval at lower levels. The lower level guys might also be able to provide some useful information, like what kind of beer or whiskey the top guy prefers.
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