Understanding the Law

The process of removal & disposal of an abandoned Carter Olympic 33 Yacht.  St. Pete Municipal Marina

Abandoned Vessels

Florida has no salvage law allowing the finder of an abandoned vessel the right of ownership. As a title state, Florida requires a transfer of vessel title from owner to purchaser in order to obtain legal ownership. It is a crime in the state of Florida to take an abandoned vessel without first getting a title to it; doing so is considered theft and could result in fines or even jail time.
Section 705.103, Florida Statutes, states that a person who finds an abandoned vessel and wants to make claim to it, and ultimately title it, must first report it to a law enforcement officer. The law enforcement agency will collect a fee to conduct an investigation and determine the owner of the vessel. If the vessel is not claimed in the process of the investigation, the law enforcement agency may transfer it to the finder with a bill of sale and evidence of the investigation. The finder would then apply to DHSMV to have the title put into his name.
For more information on derelict and abandoned vessels, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Like most possessions, boats often have a lifespan. Remember the old saying: "Your car is a necessity, your boat a luxury". At some point, boats are of such little monetary value or utility that they are not worth the cost of upkeep and storage. Some vessels are becoming natural reefs on the slip or at the dock for lack of maintenance and often they sink. We removed and disposed over 900 vessels from Tampa Bay. (See Capt. Log page/database).
Proper vessel disposal is a vital part of clean and responsible boating, but is also very expensive.  Why? Because there are several environmental hazards associated with old vessels, including used fuel, oil, solvents and used batteries.  It is important that all vessels are properly disposed of. Never abandon or sink a vessel to dispose of it. Not only does it pose an environmental and navigational hazard on our state’s waterways but it is also illegal with fines and even imprisonment.

Pinellas County Solid Waste (landfill) maximum length is 24'. Vessels over this size have to be cut accordingly.

Vessels Disposal Fees:

The cost includes labor, landfill disposal, recycling or disposing of used fuel, oil, batteries and other hazardous materials.

1. Vessels under 24' - $45.00 per foot

2. Vessels under 35' - $75.00 per foot

3. Vessels under 50' - $95.00 per foot 

 4. Vessels over 50' - $125.00 per foot

Price does not include fuel disposal fee, marine towing or land transport!

Disposal fees are paid prior to removal. No exceptions!

      Removal & Disposal of Derelict and Abandoned Boats

Abandoned vessels, south Pinellas County 

Pinellas Derelict Map

Federal Law

Florida Law

News

Bank Foreclosures / RE Companies / Private properties

The "LEGAL" process required prior to disposal of a abandoned vessel on private property:

-  Impoundment ( tow ticket and law enforcement record number)

-  Dry / wet storage for 36 days 

-  Certified mail / notice to vessel owner

-  Legal ad, newspaper notice of sale

-  Public auction date

Unless we meet this criteria, we can't legally dispose a derelict / abandoned vessel.