Hurricane-damaged boats going on the block

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National Liquidators, a vessel recovery and remarketing firm based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in November plans to begin auctioning online as many as 800 boats damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

National Liquidators, a vessel recovery and remarketing firm based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., in November plans to begin auctioning online as many as 800 boats damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The company has leased a 75-acre facility in Mandeville, La., where the boats are being taken and processed for its weekly auctions.

“We have tugs towing the boats up to the yard, and have cranes hauling them out,” says National Liquidators president Bob Toney. “Before the auctions, we make sure we have all the title work clear and that all the boats are accounted for. It’s a time-consuming process but a necessary one, and for a good cause, I think.”

By auctioning off the damaged boats, Toney hopes to help salvage some of the remaining value they have. “There are obvious risks involved with buying a damaged boat, of course,” he says, “but I think this provides an opportunity to get people into decent boats at good prices. At the very least a damaged boat can be bought for its parts.

“This helps insurance companies get back some of the money they lost because of the storm, too,” he says.

BoatU.S. is one of National Liquidators’ partners in this effort; it expects to supply about 200 of the boats to be sold. “We worked with National Liquidators last year after Hurricane Ivan on a similar assignment,” says Carroll Robertson, senior vice president of claims for BoatU.S. “They’re good to work with, and we’re pleased to work with them as well as other liquidators to help in this general effort.”

Details about each boat will be available at the National Liquidators Web site, www.yachtauctions.com. In addition to the starting price, Toney says descriptions will include the boat’s year, make and model, as well as a detailed explanation of how it sustained damage. He says damage goes “across the board,” from newer boats with minor damage to “total disasters.” There will be between five and 10 photographs of each boat as well, exterior and interior. However, Toney stresses that potential buyers should see the boats in person before deciding to make a purchase.

“We’re trying not to have buyers bid blind,” he says. “We want to have people come and inspect the boats themselves or have a surveyor take a look. People should either come by the yard or call and ask to speak with a salesperson. These boats are being sold as-is. Everyone needs to know what it is they’re buying.”

The boats are expected to range from 20 to 50 feet, the average length between 32 and 35 feet, Toney says. “It’s the larger boats that come to us totaled that still have value,” he says.

National Liquidators says the consolidation and sales of the boats will be an ongoing process, with a target completion date of six months. The company can be contacted at (800) 633-7172.