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What to Do After You’ve Salvaged Your Boat?

There’s an old saying that the two happiest days in a boat owner’s life are the day that they buy the boat and the day they sell it. For those boat owners who have had to salvage it off the bottom of a lake or ocean, it often feels like a mad rush to get rid of it. The problem is that’s often easier said than done.

The costs of repairing a vessel that’s recently been raised from the depths of Davy Jones Locker are often way more than what the boat is worth. While the temptation to just leave it at the bottom and hope nobody will notice, it’s against the law. If the day ever comes that John Q. Marine Law finds your boat, it won’t be hard to trace it back to you.

We’re going to look at several options you have at your disposal to get rid of your damaged boat.

How to Get Rid of Your Boat?

The most obvious answer to this question is to sell it. If there’s any value left, someone will eventually buy it, although you should properly set your expectations. If you’re lucky enough to find a buyer, you’ll probably get pennies on the dollar.

To that point, there are a few online websites such as BoatDump.com who advertise on their website:

“Cash paid on some 1995 or newer complete boats!”

The keyword here is “complete.” If your boat is missing valuable parts that have salvage value, such as a motor, the overall cash payout is going to rapidly come down. In some cases, you might have to pay them to take the boat off of your hands.

Salvage Yards

One of the biggest surprises to boat owners who want to get rid of that leaky hunk of fiberglass is that a salvage yard isn’t going to pay you a lot of money. The reason behind this rationale is that boats are made of fiberglass, which isn’t very recyclable.

The salvage yards need to make a buck off anything they take it, and it’s not that easy to recycle fiberglass. In some rare situations, they might be kind enough to allow you to drop it off, and they won’t pay you, and you won’t pay them. The bottom line is that you should mentally prepare yourself to take a loss one way or the other.

4 Other Options

If you’re lucky enough to find a salvage yard willing to take your boat, they’re just going to wind up stripping everything they think they can sell. After that, it will often find its way into a local landfill where it will be buried and remain in its current non-biodegradable state for hundreds of years to come. This un-romantic ending happens to many vessels regardless of whether they’ve sunk to the bottom or not.

If a salvage yard won’t take your boat, there are four other options you have at your disposal:

  • Recycling
  • Donating
  • Landfill
  • Free Boat

Recycle It – The problem with recycling a boat is that fiberglass is a nasty material that’s challenging to recycle—and it’s found almost everywhere on board a vessel. Then there’s the plastics, foam, wood, and other toxic materials that make it not worth it at the end of the day.

A few startup companies, such as Eco-Wolf in Florida, have developed a machine that can pulverize the fiberglass but still make it able to be used again. However, you still need to get the boat down to Florida and strip it completely of anything that isn’t fiberglass. This really isn’t worth it for most people, so, onto the next option.

Donate It – You could always try to donate your boat. There are more than a few 501(c)(3) non-profits out there who might do you a favor and take the vessel off your hands. Wheels for Wishes is one of many charitable organizations that might take an interest in your boat. The keyword here is “might.” They don’t have to take your boat, and many times they won’t for various reasons, so be prepared to show some gratitude if they do you the favor.

Dump It – Some landfills might take your boat for free, or they could ask for a few hundred dollars. The only real downside to a landfill is that it can negatively impact the environment for hundreds of years to come.

Give It Away – Nothing says, “please take this rotting hunk of un-seaworthy fiberglass off my hands” than an ad in the local classifieds or online newspaper. You can even sweeten the deal by offering them a few dollars to persuade them to take it sooner than later.

Boat Salvage Services

At American Underwater Services, we have over 20 years of experience helping boat owners retrieve their sunken vessels off the bottom of lakes, rivers, and the ocean.
Give us a call at (866) 594-1272 or fill out our form to learn more about the various commercial diving and marine salvage services that we offer.

AUTHOR ANTHONY DI IULIO

AUTHOR ANTHONY DI IULIO

Anthony Di Iulio the founder, president and co-owner of American Underwater Services, Inc., started his business in 1999 with only three employees. Today this commercial diving company employs nearly 30 people and handles over 500 projects annually. Anthony moved to Fort Worth from Louisiana with his family in 1976. He worked summers during high school welding underwater for a marina on Benbrook Lake. Eventually he took scuba lessons after almost drowning on the job. Those lessons led him to training at a deep sea diving school in Houston, which included training on offshore oil rigs. Anthony spent several years in Louisiana working on offshore rigs and on inland jobs at power plants and dams before starting American Underwater Services, Inc.

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