SailNet Community banner
1 - 20 of 83 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've started this thread to discuss and chronicle the issues that arise or have already arisen due to my five years having lived aboard the 42 foot ferro-cement Samson design ketch-rigged sloop the Miss Liberty, hailing from Clearwater Beach, Pinellas County, Tampa Area, Florida. Unfortunately at the time of this posting, her current condition is pretty bad, as is the legal situation I find myself in as a result of that condition. I have been forced to plead guilty to a charge of "derelict/abandoned vessel" mind you I was not responsible for her current condition, nor have I abandoned her even now. I have been sentenced to 65 days in jail SO FAR, a year probation which I have to pay a maintenance fee, 40/month I think, 450$ court fee, and as a condition of the probation I have to remove the boat within 150 days, or I will be sentenced to a YEAR in prison. The Miss Liberty was stripped, which is how she ended up in her current situation, which is a six-foot keel hard aground in 2-3 feet of water, sunk about 200 yards shoreward of serviceable water. I have about 25 more days in which I intend to appeal the decision in hopes of reversing the guilty plea, which I only put in after it became clear that Pasco County was going to do everything they could to railroad me in an attempt to squeeze every penny they could out of me with no regard to my civil rights or a sense of fair play. With that background, let the discussions and advice commence!
 

·
Old enough to know better
Joined
·
4,346 Posts
Your photo did not come through. Sounds like some tough luck, and with a derelict ferro cement boat you won't find much sympathy here. But if the boat ran aground in shallow water, it is your responsibility as the caretaker of the ship to keep her afloat. You are responsible for good ground tackle and even in named storms it is your responsibility. I don't know the full circumstances of why it is not your fault, but there are tons of derelict boats in Florida and they are causing lots of legislation that are limiting the rights of those who take care of there vessels.

Now liveaboard rights are something different. They are being limited unfairly in lots of places. It is because of the bad apples out there that are causing issues for lots of folks who maintain there boats. How about you explain how you got into the situation without ranting about how your rights were trampled on without any factual details. Rants never convince folks that your right. Just the facts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The persons responsible for Miss Liberty's current condition are unknown at this time, they stripped her while she was at anchor near Anclote Key on the shoreward side by virtue of 250 yards of 3 inch chain with a 75lb. Danforth iron anchor. She was self-sufficient,reliable bilge pumps, batteries, solar and wind generators, proper decking and hatch covers,she'd remained COMFORTABLY afloat through tropical storms cum hurricanes and a tornado for over five years in the Mandalay channel, less than thirteen miles away. The Pasco County Sheriff posted her on the derelict albandoned at-risk vessel database and it was like he'd put a flag out that said 'hit me' they took EVERYTHING made of metal or containing it,all the wiring, batteries, solar panels, wind generators I invented, bilge pumps, inverters charge controllers, hatches, 8 Perko bronze(brass?) portholes, a 500 gallon stainless fuel tank from under the back deck that they ripped up to get, and probably last but most assuredly not least, the anchor (one assumes) and the 250 foot 3 inch iron anchor chain, and assorted goodies, my 90 inch wifi enabled plasma tv, 1000 watt stereo,guitars, amps, my computers and laptops, nav/sonar equipment, the entire binnacle, compass, wheel, stand all, stainless steel stove and restaurant hood and microwave, two refrigerators, a deep freezer, all of the lights and fixtutes and wiring, even (sorry, will continue in next post, ( the aluminum toilet paper roll holder.
 

·
I don't discuss my member
Joined
·
2,670 Posts
How is it that simply being responsible for a "derelict" vessel gets you thrown in jail? Could it be that there more to the story than you simply leaving a boat at anchor in one spot for 5 years?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My apologies if this is coming off as a rant, but as you read I hope you will recognize the intent with which it is written, I am seeking advice and perhaps help and trying to lay down a cautionary tale, there but the Grace of God kinda thing with all love of a mariner at heart. See, the fact that the anchor and chain were amongst the things stolen is tantamount, they set my girl adrift, and right when tropical storm Sandy was coming into her windup around here. I had been working in Clearwater Beach, thirteen miles to the south, half-camping ashore, only coming out every other weekend, in my 19 foot Cobia'grocery getter, an unfortunate victim at the dock during Sandy.The Pasco County Sherriff continued to call and harass me EXACTLY as he had before the storm, not giving any hint that there had been any change in her status, and I repeatedly told him she was anchored south of the Anclote River, which put her squarely in Pinellas County, and out of his jurisdiction anyways, and it wasn't until several weeks later that a Pinellas County Sheriff whom I know loosely passed word to the Clearwater Police Department's Marine Sergeant Officer Mark Cason whom I know rather well, professionally at least, he'd inspected Miss Liberty a couple times, and my favorite anchorage was less than a quarter mile from where the sheriffs and the PD both dock, that it was a situation, not just his usual illegal 'you can't anchor there' nonsense. I had lost two boats, actually, to Sandy, a 19 foot center console SeaSquirt as well as the Cobia, and had been busy scrambling to replace them, both of which had been disposed of properly, I might add, cut up and paid to drop at the dump, but because of which, I had not been able to go and check on Miss Liberty yet. Pasco County issued a notice (they say, I never saw it) to an address that was so old it had been torn down and is now a Walgreens, not the address on my ID or the ship's registration, which, when returned, became a warrant. I have a few friends in Clearwater, having been sort of the first long-term sailboat resident, and not easily, the official types were dead set against it, but at every inspection I was within the law or so close no offense was sufficient to net me more than a single 'anchor light' ticket (bulbs burn out, sometimes) which I think was even dismissed when I proved I fixed it before the next evening, and complain as they did, the local Condo owners finally grumbled and accepted that I lived here.
 

·
Señor Member
Joined
·
1,457 Posts
Captmetatron,

I regret that you find yourself in this position.

From your description, I'm guessing that you had no insurance on either Miss Liberty or your skiff. True?
 

·
Over Hill Sailing Club
Joined
·
3,688 Posts
Sorry to hear that thieves have stolen all your stuff. That's terrible. Did they also set her adrift so that she became grounded? Did you file a police report when this happened? How and when did she sink? Something sounds fishy with this story. Did you have your belongings insured from theft? With all the derelict boats in Florida, it is not surprising that they are trying to hold owners responsible so taxpayers are not stuck with the cleanup bill. From what I've observed in places, there are many abandoned boats in FL and many more that look like they're one step away from becoming derelicts. It's unfortunate that you've been caught up in this but if you explain to a judge that the boat was ransacked and cut free one night and you returned to it the next day to find it grounded and stripped, I can't see how you can be held responsible. Sounds like time to get a lawyer, maybe even a PI to find if there is a link between the disgruntled condo owners and the destruction of your boat.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
22 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I know, long winded, my apologies, but the Devil here is in the details. So, I know some guys here that do commercial recoveries and I begged, rented, or borrowed enough equipment to handle about any condition I thought Miss Liberty could conceivably be in up to and including refloat from as deep as 30 or so feet, rented a good deck boat as a work platform, and went to go get a good meal for me and a few buddies who agreed to be unskilled labor for food on that lovely albeit chilly Friday afternoon... And got arrested at the Hess station hanging out waiting for them to show up for 'Felony Derelict/Abandoned Vessel', with all that equipment, much of it RENTED, remember, with a NO BOND hold,because Pasco County considered the undelivered notice a 'failure to appear'! I tryed all weekend to contact someone to no avail, and on Monday I went before a judge who then refused to release me on my own recognizance, and since all anyone knew was that I had borrowed a bunch of expensive equipment and then vanished, because since I had been transferred directly to Pasco, it took 13 DAYS to arrange a friend to find me and come 27 miles away and put up property and 100 dollars to pay a$500 dollar bail! The rental companies I got some of the equipment from were ticked, and blackballed me from further rentals because I didn't have money to pay the added fees. ...more in a bit...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
223 Posts
Ditto on PorFin's comment. Just about everything you described in your unfortunate tale would have been reimbursed and made whole to at least some degree by properly insuring your vessel and personal property. If the situation is that you chose not to carry insurance for whatever reason, then you are in fact totally responsible and get zero sympathy from me.
 

·
Working for next Boat
Joined
·
213 Posts
ok a few more post and the OP can link photos, and this is making my head hurt, i am like WTH
 

·
Señor Member
Joined
·
1,457 Posts
Been giving this some thought, and trying to read between the lines (which may be useless since some details are either wrong or make absolutely no sense)...

- 42' ferro-cement boat, laying at anchor in the same spot for 5+ years.
- Owner not living aboard, but "visiting" every other week or so.
- Owner apparently also has no fixed shoreside residence.
- From the description, the boat is either a floating apartment or a floating storage unit -- even those self-indulgent power boaters we love to poke fun at would think that a 90" TV has no business on a real seaworthy vessel that's less than 160' LOA.
- Owner has boat firmly attached to the bottom with 750' of 3" chain (in an area that never exceeds 12' of depth) at the northern end of the ICW along FL's west coast.
- Owner declined to insure his boat (basically assuming all risk himself.)
- For some reason that is so far unclear, both the owner and the vessel caught and held the attention of local LEO's.
- Don't know if the vessel registration was kept up to date.
- LEO's had been trying to engage the owner for a long time before the vessel was listed as "at risk."
- The live aboard owner was not present to defend his "home" when looters/salvors descended.
- Hurricane Sandy's impact on the west coast of Florida was fairly minor, so that's probably been thrown in there just to elicit sympathy.

Captmetatron -- forgive me for being harsh, but as the saying goes "it sucks to be you."

You took a gamble and lost. Had you carried insurance on the boat, you'd have far fewer problems than you are facing today.

The story of your arrest also raises more questions than anything else.

Frankly, you and your vessel are the epitome of exactly WHY Florida is enacting laws that make life for cruisers more challenging these days.

Do I feel sorry for you? A little. But you gotta live with the decisions you've made.
 

·
Bombay Explorer 44
Joined
·
3,619 Posts
5 years without moving says houseboat to me rather than a liveaboard cruiser.

But having some experience with local authorities in Florida and how they deal with people they perceive to be vagrants squatting without paying local taxes I suspect that they will use all the bits of the law that they can to get you out of there.

Anyway is your boat water tight and will it stay afloat if moved to deep water? Does it have a working engine. Do you have a destination in mind if it is refloated.
 

·
I don't discuss my member
Joined
·
2,670 Posts
I am still unclear why we are being told this tale of woe. Does this guy just like to hear himself talk? Did he think that average boaters who actually pay their bills were going to sympathize with him? Or is he gonna hit us up for money?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
847 Posts
I want to hear more about the "3" chain" and the "iron Danforth".
I would be scared to mess with thieves who could steal 250 yards of 3" chain.
 

·
Old enough to know better
Joined
·
4,346 Posts
I want to hear more about the "3" chain" and the "iron Danforth".
I would be scared to mess with thieves who could steal 250 yards of 3" chain.
Yea, and a 500 gallon stainless steel fuel tank, and a restaurant hood, with all that equipment there must have been no room to walk around inside! I wonder if he had a washer and drier on deck? must have been hanging pretty low in the water.
 

·
Old enough to know better
Joined
·
4,346 Posts
1 - 20 of 83 Posts
Top