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Turning old boats into tax deductions

The University of R.I. Foundation uses some donated boats in their programs and sells others as a fundraiser

The University of R.I. Foundation uses some donated boats in their programs and sells others as a fundraiser

Boat owners longing to get that old boat out of their life, or ready to give up on that restoration project they just can’t seem to start, have an appealing option beyond a “for sale” sign.

For 33 years the University of Rhode Island Foundation has given people a place — and a good cause — to send their castaway vessels.

“We have boats donated to our foundation and we use them in programs for our school. What we can’t use, we put up for sale,” says Craig Parkhurst, boat manager for the URI Foundation. “All of the proceeds go to benefit our marine program at the school.”

Parkhurst says the foundation has, as of mid-October, about 50 boats at their storage facility in Narragansett, R.I., and accept 75 to 100 boats per year.

“We have everything from a little 9-foot dinghy to a 55-foot sailboat,” says Parkhurst. “It all depends on what people are looking for.”

The foundation was established in 1957 as an independent, charitable corporation by the act of the Rhode Island General Assembly, according to Parkhurst. Its purpose is to encourage and manage private donations such as boats for the benefit of the university, which hosts 14,000 students on three campuses. Since it is recognized as a charitable organization, boat donations can qualify for a tax deduction.

However, Parkhurst says, they cannot take every donation offered to them.

“We probably reject about 50 percent of the boats we are offered,” says Parkhurst. “We looked at a Sea Ray recently where the upholstery was in bad shape and the engine needed work. That sort of thing we can’t accept.”

But their high standards pay off. Parkhurst says sales have been steadily improving: in 2006 they sold 118 boats with 77 donated, as compared with 2004 where only 81 boats were sold and 71 donated.

“We also hire students to work at the boatyards,” says Parkhurst. “They assist in cleaning the boats, prepping them for the seasons, and making them show-worthy.”

Parkhurst, who is 31, says he got his start with the program as a student at the university.

“I was a part of the program from 1996 to 1999, and then I left to pursue other interests, and I came back a little over two years ago as an independent contractor,” says Parkhurst. “One of the things I enjoy about being part of this program is I enjoy meeting and working with the clientele. You get to go out and look at boats — what’s more fun than that?”

Parkhurst says most of their donations come from New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. People can look up used boats year round on .