Burden Boat Protocol

Boats That Nobody Wants

It appears that burden boats are everywhere. Sometimes it is a craft at a marina that has overdue fees for storage and the local harbormaster has been tasked with getting rid of it. Other times it is a family member or new property owner that has inherited a boat on their property. Other times they are boats with imminent operational costs like weatherization or storage and an owner eager to avoid it. Note that all of these are time sensitive problems, and people in a hurry are willing to make deals. 

So a boat comes up on our radar and we think we might be interested in it. What do we do?

Moving a craft is the cost

I am using about $10/mi as a ballpark for how much it costs to move a craft. A free or very cheap boat in Idaho can cost MANY dozens of thousands of dollars to get into the water! We have to initially decide if we are interested in seeing a craft put in the drink or if we want to salvage components. Often a craft will have to be moved if we want to keep it intact or not so there is always an overhead.

Lets consider putting it in the water

So we have decided that the craft is possibly worth keeping together and putting into the drink. It needs a home, inspection, and much more. This is NOT very common even for free craft with NADA guide values of upwards of 15k dollars.

First we need it graded. A certified marine inspector will do a 'pre purchase survey'. This means inspection on and off the water, all engine systems, and the hull. This is the most intense inspection they generally do and it costs around 19$/foot. It takes 3-5 hours. The inspector works for you and not the state or the seller, their report is for your own benefit. This survey will tell us if we want the vehicle or not. Often a pre-purchase agreement is put in writing stating that you are going to purchase a boat depending on the results of a survey, so they don't change their mind about the sale after you've paid to have it inspected.

Before the inspector comes we should prepare the boat for inspection as well as do a pre-inspection ourselves to practice doing surveys and to determine if it would be wasted funds. Loading the boat into the water for the inspection or pulling it out for the dry inspection will cost about a hundred dollars on top of the cost of the inspector. The inspector will not be removing panels, flooring, or removing ANY hardware to get at systems; it is up to YOU to prepare the craft. 

If the inspection comes back with problems that indicate we don't want anything to do with the boat we can refuse the sale and eat the cost of the survey. Water intrusion in the hull from inside or outside, rotten transom, broken masts, and impacted keels are all problems that can EASILY push a craft into 'do not want' territory.

What if it was a free boat and we are obligated, or are even paid, to get rid of it? It costs around 12-15/foot to have any boat scrapped by a professional service. In some cases we can get paid for it from a salvage company, but that will often not be the case.

Salvage The Craft For Parts Ourselves

We cut the boat into pieces! With saws! The fiberglass or wood goes to the landfill and we pay for the service, the metal goes to the scrap yard. Various valuable components may be held for resell but likely everything is gutted indiscriminately when using a professional service. This is why we would definitely want to get in on the salvage process, as we are currently building a stockpile of components. Everything from the furniture, sails, the subsystems, the pumps, and even the batteries are worth something to us. We need to start pulling components off boats, and once we do that we WILL have to pay someone to take the rest. Nothing is more useless than the fiberglass remnants left after chainsawing a yacht. This video is the first of 3 in which the owner cuts up and salvages parts from a 24' sailboat, which I found very informative.

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