Longtime fellow Woody Boater John Baas sent us in this story about trying to title a boat in New York State. I know there are tricks to this, and have had some of the same issues. Some states are not as easy to manage as others. Title Origination States. And any help would be greatly apreciated. How ever apreciated is spelled. Take it away John before I butcher more of the English language.
November 10th, 2020. In the midst of the pandemic my neighbor Randy Wagner and I set out from Mukwonago, Wisconsin for a suburb of Buffalo, New York. Why? To buy a boat, of course! Randy and his wife Judy were already proud owners of a 1946 17’ Higgins Sport Speedster utility. More on that boat, later. However, due to an anomaly with the trailer, the boat suffered a gash in the bottom which will have to wait for repair.
Meanwhile, a 1949 Higgins Sport Speedster utility appeared for sale. It was “all done”. Completely restored and beautiful! At least that’s what the owner said. 10 hours later we arrived at the owner’s shop to inspect the Higgins. Yeah, it WAS beautiful! A price was agreed to and a time for pick up was arranged for the next morning. So…staying in a motel in New York state overnight in the midst of the aforementioned pandemic made yours truly very nervous. COPD and Emphysema (genetic, not from smoking) made me a prime candidate for a casket if infected. But hey! There was a boat to buy!
At the agreed-to time the next morning, we waited nearly a half hour for the boat’s owner to show up. Randy, with cash in pocket, told me to keep the truck running and take off if anything weird should go down. It didn’t. The owner showed up and couldn’t have been more accommodating in explaining everything about the boat, it’s three covers and the trailer. The “transferable registration” was signed by the seller and off we went.
Another 10 hour’s drive and a search for a winter storage facility later, the ’49 was at her new home in Wisconsin.
New York state does not require a title for boats manufactured before 1987. The seller’s signature on the back of the “transferable registration” card serves as proof of ownership. The New York State Boater’s Guide makes this crystal clear.
Back home in Wisconsin, Randy contacts the state Department of Natural Resources, the agency in charge of registering recreational boats.
“So, where is the New York title for this boat?” says the person on the phone. The Wisconsin DNR has had no in-person contact since the Covid shut down. No amount of explaining would satisfy a half dozen DNR reps who insisted on seeing a New York title. The new Higgins is ready for the water! But if we put her in, we risk a ticket for no registration.
If you have ever purchased a boat built before 1987 in New York state and brought it to your home state, have you experienced anything like this? If so, how did you get around it?
Oh, about the ’46 Higgins with the “oops” on the bottom. With the serial number of, 4011-IN-15 it was likely built in the first two weeks of recreational production at Higgins since the end of WWII. The Higgins Classic Boat Club knows of no other existing Higgins Sport Speedster with a lower serial number.