Why No Marina Wants Your Old Boat.

Imagine being that home owner?

In the past year, there have been three large boats left behind in our area. And our area on the bay is a pin dot. And from time to time a random sail boat will linger in the water or run aground and left. But the three boats I am speaking of are large and have cost the land owners 20,000 and north of that to have removed. And yet, there is no recouse or ability to recoup any of the costs and its tough. I am even nervous about letting folks go up on the rail or dock. Me! Ya the Woody Boater. In fact I had told the guy that had the 60 ft Chris Craft NO! Bluntly.

The Connie that is now in a dumpster

With all the situations here, who the owner is, is not the issue, the issue is the owner is a dead beat, and simply walks away cutting there losses and usually has all sorts of other problems. The state doesnt help, nor does insurance, or anyone. Its a civil matter, and you end up with it all. Boat, liability and all.  I am sure this happens with un finished speed boats and all sorts of cars and such. But a 60 ft Cruiser is like someone parking a house on your lawn and leaving. IT SHOULD BE A CRIME. THEFT! The marina owner is out 30 grand, one land owner now has an 80 ft boat blocking there house, and dock. Nuth’n. Sorry about the rant. But for F sake. Somethings gotta change. Or laws with some teeth!

A Pile of crap

The cost of disposal $30,000 .  Think about it, if the guy walked up to them and said. Hey pay me $10,000 to not leave the boat at your dock? Would they have taken the deal?

23 replies
  1. Dan Overbeek
    Dan Overbeek says:

    It should not be this way, but let’s take a step back a minute. Perhaps at one time, restoring this boat was the dream and passion of its previous owner. As time went on, the owner may have found out just how expensive it actually was to restore a boat of this size. Perhaps the owner just got in over their head, when deciding to restore a craft this large. Perhaps there was a life changing event in the owner’s life. The loss of a job, family member or spouse could crush the dream. And perhaps, one of these issues caused to owner to become totally despaired and not knowing how to proceed, abandoned the craft. I know it is not the right thing to do, but depression and despair can cause a person to do irrational things. But, unless we know all the history, it is hard to rush to judgement. I am not in denial here, and the guy/gal may indeed be a piece of crap when it comes to responsibility concerning the cruiser, but there may be more to the story than we will ever know.

  2. Greg Lewandowski
    Greg Lewandowski says:

    I was not going to comment, as I don’t like negativity on WoodyBoater. All I will say is there a too many in our current society that don’t understand what ethics and integrity are all about.
    Now let’s go back to a positive WoodyBoaterville!

  3. Art
    Art says:

    Being on the water in Michigan 6 months and Florida 6 months for the past 20 years I have noticed that FL is not only where old people come to die but old boats also come to die.
    I actually have never seen an abandoned boat in a bay or marsh in MI, but I have seen MANY down here in FL..
    I realize the subject today is the marina’s getting the shaft……and yes there should be laws!!

    • Troy in ANE
      Troy in ANE says:

      Art: I have a theory on this phenomena. Once you get north of Chesapeake Bay the navigable waters get much deeper, so if a boat sinks or gets scuttled it goes to the bottom never to be seen again. In southern waters, where you get comfortable cruising in any water deeper than 5′, when a derelict boat sinks you have to keep looking at it.

      I also believe that since northern boats are usually put on the hard every winter they end up being better taken care of and if abandon it is on land not in the water.

      PS: It’s not only old wooden boats that are the problem.


    A few years ago on the ST> Johns , a friend and I were at a marina where the the washrooms were a long dock walk away. There was a barely floating cruiser tied up so we elected to have a …… against the hull when there was a yell from the bowels of the craft ” stop p…..ing on my boat… As my friend said we both “locked up”

  5. Frank@Falmouth
    Frank@Falmouth says:

    I have an undeveloped lot off the Patuxent River in Maryland that has a dock and dock house. It has deep water at the dock and is in a sheltered cove. I seldom get down there to check on it. When I went down to visit, there were several of the pilings torn from the dock and the support pilings for the dock house were pulled resulting in the dock house falling into the water. Someone had used the dock to tieup their boat during a tropical storm which caused the damage . They left some fenders on the remaining pilings but no clue as to who it was. The dock is now unsafe to even walk on and Im left with minimum $15,000 repair bill, not to mention the time frame for permits and getting someone scheduled to do the work. I guess I should consider myself lucky the jerks boat didnt sink at my dock! Some people dont respect others property, and they dont get a pass because of life events. Dont get me started..

  6. Murdock
    Murdock says:

    After Hurricane Ian tore through Ft. Myers, the resulting watercraft carnage was staggering.
    We had a LOT of boats of all sizes underwater and stranded on land due to the storm surge.
    Yesterday, I was driving past several areas that still show many vessels underwater and marinas that looked abandoned.
    As is the case in many, these remaining vessels had little or no insurance to take care of catastrophic events, so owners just walked away, leaving the cleanup to the City of Ft. Myers. The City Marina near the River District still has boats down and no docks. From what I’ve seen this week, it will be a long, long time before all is back in order.
    To say nothing of new permits, potential pollution of gas/diesel tanks and more.
    In our marina storage buildings and yards, we do our best to stay on top of vessels that are not used. The first hint is non-payment of a regular storage bill, the final call is the owner dropping off the title.
    And as Matt said, the cost of disposal is horrific as we have to spend the labor cost to remove all the necessary tanks, engines, drives, etc, etc, long before I can bring in a forty-yard dumpster and big equipment to crush and dispose of properly.
    We’ve put our foot down on allowing anything larger than what we can handle in-house. It’s our only hope to continue and manage what we can.
    Large wooden cruisers of any kind and any vintage require three things:
    1. A willing owner with a plan for completion.
    2. At least two to three hundred signed blank checks with added unlimited ACH transfers from his bank.
    3. A designated, stand alone trust fund with unlimited funds that will care for and insure said vessel(s) during and after the owners life, with a plan of keeping or disposing of same said vessel.
    My two cents worth.

  7. Kelly wittenauer
    Kelly wittenauer says:

    Hard to believe there isn’t a law holding the boat’s owner responsible. The legal costs, would likely exceed anything that could be recovered though. Our first boat, fiberglass 1988 Supra, was bought in 1993 – with a $10,000 check to the owner & a $2,000 check to the marina, to settle the seller’s debt there. So it’s not just old, or wood, boats.

  8. Tim Robinson
    Tim Robinson says:

    When we purchased our summer home almost 20 years ago in Washington state, there was an abandon boat on our beach. At first I thought it was kind of cool but then it became an eye sore. So I started calling around and found out that the state of Washington does have a program to remove abandon boats. The boat on our beach was the first to be removed and at least another 6 were removed as the state funds became available. Our bay is now free of abandon boats and we police any boat coming into the bay. Our bay is unique in that it is owned by all water front residences. If your state has the fund and you are a real pain in there sides you can get abandon boats removed.

  9. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    When we started cruising the ICW we were so taken by the number of derelict boats that Sandi started taking pictures of them all. After taking a picture about every 1/2 mile of travel this soon got old.

  10. BT
    BT says:

    I almost invested in a factory near Cincinnati, and my plan was to move into about a 30′ Chris Craft up on blocks in a field near a marina. It had a big hole in it’s hull – easily repaired to keep rodents out – not the Ohio river. I’d knock a hole in the roof for a wood burning stove, attach a garden hose and extension cord, and I’d have a beautiful little cottage for free. Never bought the factory. Some of these deserted boats should be repurposed!

  11. Don Stiles
    Don Stiles says:

    Ok This makes sense. When it comes to old wooden vessels. To steer clear of this problem. There are a few guidelines about Boats.
    1.Unless you have a lot of money or Your skill level and real life experience and connections with individuals that have similar backgrounds don’t do the wooden Boat thing.
    2. if you decide to acquire an old wood vessel Keep it a trailerable size.this way if its not worth restoring most counties will let you dispose of 1 vessel a year for FREE. After that you will have to pay buy the pound which still is not much.
    3.a lot of these old vessels have Bronze fittings on them along with other Valuable items that are very attractive on e-bay.
    4. I love old wooden boats and really enjoy bringing them back to life. A boat builder once said ” If God had intended there to be fiberglass boats he would of made fiberglass trees”
    SO in closing Unless you have the money or ability to be a caretaker of an older vessel. The combination of the 2 is a great place to be. Stay away from Boating.

  12. Berlin Büro
    Berlin Büro says:

    Buying up / saving / restoring old homes in the EU and US are mega trendy now. Maybe time to start a social media page for all these floaters

  13. Waldo
    Waldo says:

    When I was a kid in Gulfport, Miss. ( 1957 A retired air force Colonel purchased a 74′ air sea rescue boat. Beautiful mahogany hull. He and his wife were restoring it to live on it. He painted inside and out, repaired bad wood, took the old Hall Scott engines out and installed rebuilt 6-71 Detroit’s, he was proud of the boat. Week after week we would watch at the shipyard where my future wife’s father would pull his wood 38′ charter boat that his father, a boat builder had assembled in their back yard. The colonel and his wife spent tons of money and one day she said she had enough and divorce him and moved on. He kept working on the boat and one day I was sitting on the dock and noticed some stain on the hull. It was a double diagonal planked boat and when I took out my pocket knife and stuck it in the wood it went completely thru the double hull. I showed him and the next thing I knew it had been moved to a lake behind the shipyard and tied up. The lake was an old gravel pit so it was 40′ deep. After several years the boat disappeared. I went off to college and was out of state so the answer I received is that it had sunk with the engines and all of the work and cost that went down with it. At least it wasn’t tied to a dock in shallow water. I decided right then that I would stick to small wood boats like my 18′ Continental. Plenty Money Pits all over the USA.

  14. floyd r turbo
    floyd r turbo says:

    Sorry Greg to be such a Debbie downer but the ultimate result of all this may diminish the value of existing cruisers even further which will push more of them to the burn pile. Based on the current federal and state government affairs, there may not be any corrective legislation forthcoming when they can’t even handle our basic security. Perhaps we have to hit rock bottom like a drug or alcohol addict before we can climb out of the sewer. This is kinda what we’re seeing on the streets of major cities like Portland, Seattle, San Fran, NYC, Baltimore, et al. At Georgia’s well kept state government complex in Atlanta, a tent city rings around the church across from the capitol with plastic tarps, shopping carts, and all the associated trash. It seems the city gov’t is powerless to do anything about any crisis because they’re afraid of offending anyone.

  15. Chris
    Chris says:

    I think if you or your community want to explore a more serious resolution for this, I would contact a lobbyist. I say this in all seriousness, as I would imagine that the Virginia DIGF would be supportive of the introduction of a bill that holds the titled owner responsible for this type of crime (let’s call a spade a spade here).

    I have been through this process of having a lobbyist help us with introducing a bill, finding a sponsor for the bill, and ultimately having it passed into law. It’s time consuming and costs some money (although cheap considering the cost of disposal) but it does work and I can’t imagine ANY representative would oppose holding a titled owner responsible for intentionally abandoning a watercraft of any type and creating a public hazzard both for safety and environmental.

    If you want some contacts to start the conversation, let me know I’ll help you out the best I can.

  16. Dan Overbeek
    Dan Overbeek says:

    Having worked for the government for almost 30 years(fire service), I would like to say they rarely solve a problem. What usually happens is the problem is made more complicated, involving hiring more workers to handle said problem. From a government standpoint, the easiest way to raise money to fix this is to add a fee to annual boating licenses, or tax waterfront home owners. I like neither of these choices, but it is easier to raise funds via taxes, as opposed to going after an individual in court. I have no answers. I’m sure My actions have disappointed people in the course of my life as well, although I have never let a boat rot away, on someone else’s property!

  17. Ollon
    Ollon says:

    When I first moved to Ca. in 1988 I was looking for an apartment in Belmont Shores. By chance, I was passing a marina that had a row of wooden boats and noticed a for sale sign on one. It was a 1965 30′ Pacemaker with a single screw V8. I bought it for $4500 and lived on it. Slip fees were a fraction of what rent would have been and it was mine. I fixed the dry rot and put a coat of fresh paint and varnish on it. It ran good enough for harbor cruises and staying behind the breakwater. It was constant maintenance but I was always there and enjoyed doing whatever was needed. My co-workwers told me I was crazy but they all seemed to enjoy visiting and going for rides. Due to my low cost of living, I was soon able to buy a nice home. I kept the boat and repowered it with a slightly used Crusader so I could make the trip to Catalina. Life happens…a wife, 2 children, a bigger home, commuting to LAX, and not enough time to do what was needed to her it was time to pass her on to someone else. I found a buyer who was a young single guy who planned on living on her just as I had. I found out years later that he never took good care of her, lost interest and she rotted at the dock. I’m not sure whatever happened to her in the end but I’m probably better off not knowing. I’ll always have all the great memories of fun times.

    • Chuck Crosby
      Chuck Crosby says:

      Ollon, I guess we are literal wooden ships passing by in the distance past. I played rugby for Belmont Shore RFC from 82 to 86….Lived most of the time in Seal Beach, but lived for a short while (3-4 months) on a 32 Ericson Sailboat in the Long Beach Marina…Good times

  18. Mark in Ohio ( today in Florida)
    Mark in Ohio ( today in Florida) says:

    Late to the party today. What a sad topic. Abandoning a boat is a very sad thing and people should be held accountable. However this is not as bad as people who abandon their spouse or children’s mother or father. and and get by with it. That is the true tragedy. Unfortunately we can’t see this from our boat, or cruising the marina. But it is there. As a group, look at the boats that we have saved from the burn pile or dumpster. Let’s be proud and look on that bright side. Thats my two cents worth. I’m going to bed.

  19. Aaron Turner
    Aaron Turner says:

    As a CA contractor you pay into a fund. Maybe when you own or purchase a boat you should have to pay into a fund? And this fund is for the disposal of boats. There has been a philosophy around for a long time that the makers of hard goods should be responsible for them after the lifespan.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 3 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, text. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop file here