Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Boat Repo

This is a picture of the boat I was able to sell twice.  She was a storm boat, had been washed up on a seawall during a bad unnamed storm and had a 4' gash in her side.  She was taken to a marina, put up on stands and her owner was supposed to fix her.   Nothing happened for months and then the marina owner told me I could have her for storage fees.  OK, that wasn't much at all.

So, I got a fiberglass man to fix the gash, I had not yet learned the fine art of West System epoxy, and it was way beyond that anyway.  I cleaned up the interior, dried the cushions, cleaned them and made covers for them.  Got a bracket for an outboard for the back of the boat.   The day came when we were ready to put her in the water and get out for a sail.  Of course, we knew nothing about sailing, but hauled up those sails and figured out which way to turn to get the boat to heel over a bit and get going. 

After a few months, my partner said the boat was too small to spend a few months in the Keys.   HMMMM,   guess he didn't read those books about people crossing oceans in boats that size.  OK, so I put the boat up for sale and started looking for a bigger boat. 

The person who really wanted the boat, was really enthusiastic about it, was a young guy with a wife and a baby on the way.  He could afford a small down payment and some money per month.  He was so excited about it, I decided to give it a chance, against my better judgment.  I wrote up a contract stating the facts and that he would be in default if he was 30 days late on a payment.  I included a clause about notification and repossession, should he be in default.  I was really good at writing contracts back then. 

He paid on time every month for about 6 months.  Then one month, he was late and I sent him a late warning - no phone call or check from him.  I called him and reminded him that he would be in default in a few short weeks and he needed to come up with some money in order to keep the boat.  Since the contract also included a clause that I would be kept informed of the location of the boat, I went to check to see if it was safe.   It wasn't where it should be. 

Still no payment when his grace period ended, so a friend and I took off one morning in a boat loaned by a friend - a very cold day to be out on a boat trying to locate a boat when you have no idea where it might be.  We knew where he worked and lived, so we started checking all the little marinas and places there was dockage.   After a few hours, we located the boat, safe and sound in a tiny area that had multiple docks.  She was safe and all locked up.  We elected to come back that evening to do the actual repossession. 

We notified the police that we had a contract that was in default and we were planning on repossessing the boat that evening.  It's standard procedure for repo people to notify them so that when the defaulting party calls in saying the car or boat was stolen, the police will tell them what happened.  We came back at dusk, I climbed back onto the boat I had sold and disconnected the dock lines and tied a line from the boat we were towing with.  I felt like I was stealing my own boat.

Everything was going smoothly until we came to a bridge that we had to have open in order to get under it.   We called the bridge tender, telling him we had a boat in tow and needed an opening.  He said to come on and he would have it open when we got there.   We kept moving toward the bridge and didn't see the gates coming down.  We called again and the tender again assured us he would have the bridge open before we got there.  By the time we were almost at the bridge fenders, it was either go under or turn around - he still had not put down the gates to open the bridge.  We made a hard turn back the way we had come, just in time. 

We called the bridge tender and told him we had to abort because we felt it was unsafe since he didn't even have the gates down  and there was no way the bridge would have been opened by the time we needed it.  He made the excuse that he had someone on the bridge and couldn't get him off.  We told him that as soon as he had the gates down and we saw the bridge opening, we would be coming through.  Everything went through on the second try, but we were not rushing it since we waited until we were sure the bridge was actually opening.

We towed it to a marina that was close to the house where we had dockage for our "new" boat, a 35' Morgan.  The next day, we talked to the owner of the dock about having 2 boats now.  He later called us to tell us his neighbor wanted to buy the boat we just repossessed and he was going to buy his neighbor's little boat.  What a great deal! 

We cleaned up the boat again and a few days later, made the sale.  That's the only boat I was able to sell and made money on it.  What a deal!

Betty Karl

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