Dead Boats

Nov 26, 2019

For the first time in my career in the boating industry I am getting more and more calls from people wanting to dump their old boats. Some of the reasons are:

1- The owner has died and the family is stuck trying to dispose of a boat they don’t want.
2- Yearly maintenance exceeds what the boat is worth.
3- The owner is no longer able to use it and no one else wants it.
4- The owner can’t find a broker willing to sell it, since the selling price of the boat is less than the commission they would charge.

These are all real cases that we have come across.  These boat owners or their families feel like they are between a rock and a hard place, and it’s often a difficult conversation telling someone that their beloved boat – that they have spent years working on and improving – is just no longer worth the money to store it.

The most obvious assumption is to donate the boat to a charity for a taxable donation. Unfortunately there are only so many of these charities and they are inundated with boats. As these charities are most often Not For Profit many do not have the money to maintain the free boat once they acquire it.  Hence they are very selective on the type and number of boats they can take.  The donation process also requires three independent appraisals – which is not cheap – as surveyors do most appraisals at great cost.

Another hope is to dismantle the boat and try to sell the parts.  Basically this becomes a challenge because the parts are usually dated and have no real value.  The keel and aluminum components will have some scrap value but it is difficult to move them to the scrap yard.  In the end you still are left with the hull and deck to dispose of.

How about just abandon it somewhere?  This has become a big problem for Marinas and Yacht Clubs in recent years, and now the Ministry of Transport has stepped in and made it an offence to abandon a boat. They will track you down and ensure it is your problem.

Sell it?  If you can find a broker who will list it and the value is worth everyone’s time and effort, then that is the best solution.  Keep in mind that it will probably need to pass a marine survey.  If the boat has a value under $15,000 most brokers will not be interested in listing it as the marketing and advertising is too expensive.  This is where sites like Kijji and Craig’s List come in.  Boats in this price range are prime candidates for these sites and finding potential buyers. Look at advertising outside of the large metro areas where there are more handy people with available space and time to do any work that might need to be done.

Dispose of the boat: Boating Ontario has done a lot of research in conjunction with the Ministry of Transport. Go to: boatingontario.ca and follow the link to Boat Disposal and there you will find the resources to deal with your problem.

Old boats are a real problem and will not go away unless owners take action sooner rather than later.  Most marinas will no longer even allow old boats into their yards, as they do not want any future issues.

Pat Sturgeon
Pat Sturgeon Yachts
Mississauga, ON

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