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I've been thinking about the sailboats that are occasionally left adrift, like the one a few hundred miles north of Hawaii.

What happens if you go out and tow it back in? Has anyone every heard of anyone getting a check that made the effort worthwhile? Please PM me with details, if you have them.
 

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.. I mean, is it worth it beside the important fact of not letting a good sailboat go to waste? There's something honorable about preserving one.
 

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I know a guy who salvages sunk sailboats and refurbishes them in his spare time. He does all the work himself and every two or three years he sells a nice boat for a nice profit. Its not for everyone though since most people arent able to do 100% of the work themselves or arent able to put in the time - This guy does it as much as a hobby as a business. You would have to enjoy the work to make it worthwhile.
 

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For the bigger boats, I'm sure it'd be worth doing—but it woudl require an investment in capital, like a vessel capable of handling bad weather and towing said larger sailboat into harbor.
I've been thinking about the sailboats that are occasionally left adrift, like the one a few hundred miles north of Hawaii.

What happens if you go out and tow it back in? Has anyone every heard of anyone getting a check that made the effort worthwhile? Please PM me with details, if you have them.
 

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If you find and tow an abandoned (adrift) vessel to a marina, and the owner wants it back, whos is it?
 

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Spam, Food of the Seagods
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There are "salvage" rights, but, a person needs to really study up on this stuff.

For myself, it not worth my time, unless a person were to ask for help. And then, we are not sure we would be compensated for our efforts.

"Pure Salvage" is the term I think you need to read up on.

BoatUS Towing Services: Towing vs Salvage

The reference is only that, and for a starting point to "learn"!
 

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allthumbs,

I believe the rule of the water is something to the effect of.......

If the tower uses "there" line to tow, salvage or other wise a boat, they then have rights to ownership.

Don't quote me on that one, but, that is the generally speaking right one has. There are some exceptions, such as some country's governments will claim ownership of boats that have sunk. Hence Spain with some of the gallions sunk in the 1800's as an example. Even then, it is hard for them to figure out if you found one, and brought the gold etc up with out them knowing.

Marty
 

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Assuming the boat is "abandoned" in "international waters".... I'd be in contact with the US Navy (if it were close) to ask them to check things out (or Coast Guard if close enough to US waters).

I have to ask... if someone asks for help and you "toss them a line" - how does one figure it's now your salvage, your boat, you are owed something?

Seems to me that good practice is to assist people, period.
 

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If the boat was adrift and in reasonable danger of being hit and sunk, you are probably entitled to reasonable salvage costs for the vessel. As a general rule, the greater the risk to you and your vessel in "salvaging" the other boat, the greater the salvage costs you're entitled to. YMMV... IANAL.
If you find and tow an abandoned (adrift) vessel to a marina, and the owner wants it back, whos is it?
 

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If the boat was adrift and in reasonable danger of being hit and sunk, you are probably entitled to reasonable salvage costs for the vessel. As a general rule, the greater the risk to you and your vessel in "salvaging" the other boat, the greater the salvage costs you're entitled to. YMMV... IANAL.

I can see the salvager and the boat owner having different opinions on how much that is, especially after it's safe and sound at the dock.

If it were truely worthwhile to salvage someone elses boat, I would think there would be "helicoptor chasers" out there scooping up your boat the minute you are rescued.
 

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Most boats aren't worth a whole lot... and the salvage coverage only goes up to the value of the boat. So, a Cal 39 might only have $40,000 of coverage, and you might not even qualify for all of that. Keeping a salvage vessel that is capable of towing a damaged 40-65' sailboat back in heavy weather, is a pretty expensive proposition... and I seriously doubt that going out, even in relatively benign weather, finding the boat, and then towing it back is going to be profitable, unless you're dealing with boats and cargo worth millions of dollars.
 

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I'll echo SailingDog, and add a word about the market for "fix-up" sailboats.

Right now, almost no one's buying, hence the value of your tow-in is probably lower than at any time in recent memory. The value of what you salved, and the percentage you may receive as a salvage award, and the legal costs you may have incurred to reach that percentage, and the cost of the equipment (helio? tug? or just a lucky auxiliary cruiser passing by?) may exceed what you are ultimately awarded in salvage, if indeed you're awarded anything.

then there's the tricky question of whether it's an abandoned boat, or not. Whose tow line it is doesn't add much to this analysis. Salvage (it isn't til a judge says it is, otherwise it may be just towage) is awarded after considering a whole bunch of factors (google "Blackwall/ salvage" to see what the Blackwall factors are), and it can be expensive to get there.

So there's enough uncertainty, and delay, and expense, to determine whether you're the "owner", or the salvor, or just the tower, and what the recovery to you is, to make the effort likely non-cost effective for a smallish sailing yacht.
 

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Sailing Dog is the closest one so far. Salvage laws are complex and depnd a lot on when where and how. But basically if you find the vessel and tow it in, then you can make a salvage claim, that is essentially charge the owner for what you think was the cost of salvaging the vessel. You do not onw the vessel. For you to claim rights to the vessel the owner would have to relinquish their ownership. The exception is an abandoned vessel. And then you have to make a good faith attempt to find the owner of the vessel. Anyway, vessels salvage on the high seas come under admiralty law which is vastly different than civil law us mortals deal with every day. If you salvage a vessel within a state's jurisdiction the it comes under the laws of that state and they vary all over the map.

Read the article above about when it's salvage and when it's a tow. There is a significant difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
peikenberry,

I've been reading up a lot on this and this is the first time I've heard of admiralty versus civil law. Thanks for that.

Regards
 

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By the way, it's probably a lot easier to just shop around the marinas for abandoned boats. A lot of boats get abandoned by the owners and left at marinas. The Marinas are happy to get rid of them, usually cheap cheap. Plus there are always ads for free boats to good homes on Craigslist and others such as the Woodenboat Rescue Foundation The Wooden Boat Rescue Foundation Search the net. You'l probably find something.
 

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Very true, and the capital outlay to fund this is much lower, since you don't need a salvage vessel capable of towing a large sailboat in heavy seas. :)
By the way, it's probably a lot easier to just shop around the marinas for abandoned boats. A lot of boats get abandoned by the owners and left at marinas. The Marinas are happy to get rid of them, usually cheap cheap. Plus there are always ads for free boats to good homes on Craigslist and others such as the Woodenboat Rescue Foundation The Wooden Boat Rescue Foundation Search the net. You'l probably find something.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I read a story from a year or two back. After 2 years in the courts, the sailboat that was towed-in was sold at auction. It sold for $9,000. This was the boat where the man fell off the boat.

So the people that towed the boat lost 2 days of fishing, had to pay legal fees and ended up getting next to nothing for their troubles. That is, nothing other than the intrinsic satisfaction of saving a sailboat, which was not really of intrinsic value to them, but would be for me.

Has anyone ever heard of it working out financially, to support going out and rescuing a derelict sailboat?
 

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Bene-

I doubt it is going to work out financially to salvage derelict sailboats, because derelict boats are not worth much by definition.

derelict: bedraggled: in deplorable condition;
However, it is probably possible to make money based on salvaging larger abandoned boats, that are relatively new and in relatively good condition. For instance, if the Maltese Falcon is ever abandoned, I'm pretty sure that you could make a penny or two salvaging her.


I read a story from a year or two back. After 2 years in the courts, the sailboat that was towed-in was sold at auction. It sold for $9,000. This was the boat where the man fell off the boat.

So the people that towed the boat lost 2 days of fishing, had to pay legal fees and ended up getting next to nothing for their troubles. That is, nothing other than the intrinsic satisfaction of saving a sailboat, which was not really of intrinsic value to them, but would be for me.

Has anyone ever heard of it working out financially, to support going out and rescuing a derelict sailboat?
 
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