Some mistakes are caught and corrected immediately. Some take years to discover and a lot of time and effort to fix. This brings us to the story of Robert Riggs and his recent purchase of a 2000 Wellcraft 330 Martinique.
The vessel Mr. Riggs purchased has a history, as all used vessel do, if only they could talk! This history became the path of discovery for a Hull of a Mistake.
The first owner purchased the vessel from a new boat dealer and took ownership with a State of Florida Title. The boat was traded to a dealer, sold to the second owner who chose to document the vessel with the US Coast Guard. Another dealership took the boat in on trade and resold it to owner number three, who once again titled the vessel with the State of Florida. Mr. Riggs purchased the vessel directly from owner number three and again, the vessel would be documented with the US Coast Guard.
At the time of purchase, a certified marine surveyor was hired to perform a survey on the vessel. To Mr. Riggs surprise, the hull identification number the surveyor verified was not the same as the hull identification number on the Florida title. The last four digits on the hull number engraved in the transom were D000 and the last four digits listed on the title were E000.
Having a background in the purchase and resale of Harley Davidson’s, the motorcycle of choice for thieves and chop shops, Mr. Riggs was immediately concerned about the hull number discrepancy, as this may have been a sign of possible fraud. He immediately alerted Maritime Finance and the Documentation Company of the situation. Initially, it was thought that there was a typographical error in the hull number on the first Florida title that was submitted to the Coast Guard. In order to investigate this possibility, it was necessary to go all the way back in the chain of ownership and verify the hull number with the builder, Wellcraft.
Wellcraft keeps excellent records and was extremely helpful in solving this problem. A hull tracing was performed and submitted to the factory for research purposes. It turns out that at the time the vessel was built the hull number with D000 was imprinted in the transom and the hull number with E000 was entered incorrectly into the computer which caused the original Builder’s Certificate and MSO to be printed with the wrong hull number.
Once the mistake had been investigated, Wellcraft issued the paperwork as required by the US Coast Guard to correct the hull number on the ownership document to match the hull number engraved on the hull. The hull number on this vessel was incorrect from the time of production and remained undetected for over four years, through three owners and two dealerships! The moral to the story: Always obtain a pencil tracing or digital photo of the hull identification number on both NEW and USED vessels, prior to purchase.
Our special thanks to Robert Riggs, current Maritime customer, for his willingness to share his story with our readers.