We were planning to make a road trip and haul her out for some bottom work in November. Ella has been hauled out every 18 months for many, many years and was due. I last had her hauled out in May 2016 ( <– click link) in Hilton Head. But this (below) was pretty much the last straw … $15,000 to move the boat 150 feet when they were turning off power to the docks when Irma was approaching Florida fall of 2017. They moved her days prior to Irma hitting Jacksonville, even before Irma hit the keys. Albert and I were headed to Florida with whatever we might need (generators, pumps, etc – he even has lift bags) from Chicago. Albert worked for TowBoat US and Chicago Marine Salvage for 8 years.
She said they would own the boat at the end of October. After everything I put into her … then what it took to save her from hurricane Matthew (Part 1 and Part 2 <– click each part to read the story about Hurricane Matthew) … just to get an invoice claiming it took 11 people 6 hours to move her 150 ft days before the surge even got there, and get charged $300 per hour per person for it. Between the original boatwright, this, multiple hurricanes, and a custody battle that’s been going on for 5 years now. At some point, you just have to give. I’ve spent a lot of days crying over that boat. All of mine and Brody’s personal possessions are still there on that boat because I couldn’t bring myself to go get our stuff and say goodbye to her right away and then they started claiming they owned the boat and put up no trespassing signs.
Hurricane Irma Emergency Salvage Invoice
The first labor line item for $11,400 for 38 total hours on 9.9.17 – in case you don’t have a calculator $11,400/38 total hours = exactly $300 an hour.
For $11,400 the boat was moved from the yellow circle, to the red circle – and they can now claim that the labor was for all kinds of stuff, but the original invoice spells out very clearly detailed dates and times of day … all on 9.9.17
9.9.17 – They spent 38 hours on my boat, at one point they had 11 people on my boat for 4 hours. That’s one person every 5 feet of the boat, doing what? for a solid 4 hours? that was worth $300 per hour per person?
9.9.17 – This was one day before Hurricane even hit the keys. They’ll claim that all those people were necessary because of hurricane-force winds. But 9.9.17 the hurricane was still over 500 miles away. Yet this was for an “Emergency Salvage” (as stated on their invoice)
(someone else posted pictures of her on facebook and I had that post embedded here, but the post was deleted – so I will go find the photos and post them here where the facebook post was)
Her story bounced around from saying that they saved my boat from sinking,
To saying that my boat sank on September 11, 2017 (see below) – one email says that Ella “went under” twice. But a few emails like this is the extent of the information that I would get. No invoices, no pictures nothing, just statements like the one below after the fact, sometimes months after the fact … and continued threats of more invoices (which never came).
If the boat SANK on September 11, 2017, and tried to sink 5 times since, where are the photos, where is the phone call, where are the invoices? The only invoice I’ve seen is the Hurricane Salvage invoice that she created for the events between Sept 9 and Sept 14 it shows absolutely nothing that happened on September 11 when the boat suppossedly sank.
I never knew if there was just that one $15,000 invoice or whether there were 5 of them?!? She just wanted me to start sending her money and threatening with more and more invoices. Her responses were just more random things that deviate from previous claims and timelines … Not once was there ever a total amount due provided, just lots of threats of more invoices.
Ironically now that she wants to sell the boat of course her story is that it never sank She even posted this photo of here here … not sunk??
When I left Texas to go crew on Marianne in Chicago I set up a bill payment to Lambs, that I wasn’t to the right address with the new ownership. And so I got behind on dockage starting July – which she emailed me about the end of August. While we were being hit by Hurricane Harvey home in Texas and then Hurricane immediately hit Florida the next week. So here is an email where she claims that Ella “went under” two other times, once in the middle of the night.
I have many multiple emails to her begging her to let me pay the dockage … and asking her to work with me on the Salvage Invoice. (I will dig these up and post these emails too) We wanted to take the boat to a yard to get fixed.
But Nadia at Lambs gave me days notice that I needed to pay the invoices and remove it from her dock or surrender my title to the boat. Everyone knows that you have to get on the yards list to get hauled out, especially with old wooden boats. We called everywhere, but finding a yard to get hauled out at in 6 days was impossible. We made dozens upon dozens of calls and we couldn’t even find alternate dockage within her timeframe (remember most docks had just had substantial damage during Irma – much of Jacksonville was under water).
At some point after October I stopped talking to her via phone calls because the stories were all over the place and I wanted it all in writing (so from here on out I have everything in writing to upload) I had a diver go underneath and check her several times while she was there, but after Hurricane Irma something was different and the boat was pumping out more water from the bilge, she didn’t want me to use my diver so I agreed to use hers and told her to send me the bill (which I never received – she says she texted me a photo, I have the messages that show that didn’t happen). But her story went from her diver spent all day patching 15 holes in my boat (have this in a screenshot of text messages to upload) to he patched half that many (in the email above). I asked many, many multiple times in writing if I could pay her for dockage, and work a deal on this salvage invoice. Not once was there any interest on their part unless I paid them thousands of dollars just to enter negotiations with her.
They chained her to the dock so that I could not have her hauled out and repaired. They put papers on the boat saying that they owned the boat and put up no trespassing signs. So we were not even able to board her after that. They have said that they have owned the boat as early back as December. I tried to get them to work a deal with me in November so we could get her fixed while Marianne was in waiting in Mobile for a month. And I never received a response. Albert and some other friends were going to all head to fix her in November when we had a haul out planned, but couldn’t because she was chained to the dock. There were multiple threats to haul her out and destroy her, but there was no interest in saving her. But the haulout date would pass and the boat would not be hauled out and so I thought there might be hope in working a deal (have screenshots to upload of these multiple haulout dates that never happened).
Then I found out they posted her up for auction without even trying to call me, email me, or contact me (which they had a current phone number and email – and I have saved every missed call and phone message from them on my phone records) … well apparently, nobody wanted her?? Not sure what happend at this Auction. In the meantime, after they claimed they owned the boat they kept sending me dockage bills. I tried again in January to work a deal with them while Marianne was on hold in the Keys, to which I never got an email response to. I had to start copying in her mother, the owner on the emails to finally get a response. When I tried to work a deal with them I agreed to pay all the dockage, even when they had her chained to the dock, but they were not interested. I asked many, many multiple times for months for them to send me ANY documentation about them acquiring ownership, to prove they owned the boat, etc. To which I NEVER received anything of the sort from them. (I will upload and post the emails between us to prove all of this)
UPDATE: 4/23/2018 I can’t get anything in writing from them, but Lambs called and said that they own the boat and are going to destroy it next week.
So we went to Lambs that day to see if she is worth fixing … here are some of photos that we took.
The really sad part is that they hauled her out 3/9/2018 with TWO single straps (more photos to follow), and broke her bad. I had Albert and an attorney with me and the attorney (an avid boat owner and had restored a wooden boat) and they can vouch for the unwillingness they had to work anything out still. He immediately pointed out the marks where they only lifted her with two single straps. My attorney asked to see the copies of the papers that prove they own the boat and she just stated that she thought that they owned the boat since a week or two ago (according to her new timeline they hauled her before they even owned her), but again NEVER provided any such documentation proving ownership to us, not even with my attorney’s persistence. Since Ella was out of the water the attorney tried to negotiate something and even asked if we could repair the bottom there at their marina, just so we could refloat her and get her to the yard where we could work on her. The owner, her mom was agreeable to this, but Nadia put a halt to that real quick. Her only offer was to give her $15k and then I had to pay her shop to repair the bottom (including the damage they did hauling her out with only 2 single straps). When I made statements about working a deal on the Salvage Invoice, the response was “we never sent you a Salvage Invoice” …. (uhhh see above invoice – clearly says Hurricane Irma Emergency Salvage). When I mentioned getting billed $300 an hour for 38 hours to move the boat 150 feet the response was “we never billed you $300 an hour …. (uhhh see above invoice). So when we got them to let us go inside the boat and realizing how broken she was from the haulout, the $15,000 check I was going to have to write to Lambs, and then pay, I’m sure, MANY more times that for their shop to do the work????
On top of that she was left unsecured and unlocked, anything of value had disappeared, my brand new Garmin, my radio that Albert gave me, stuff from the helm, all the tools, all the extra parts, my big Yeti that was a gift, my Sonos speakers, even the several of the very expensive bilge pumps that I had just bought in Hiltion Head or Jacksonville, I only had a few minutes on her, so God knows what else was gone.
The realization was that this was goodbye to her. And then I had to get on Marianne and travel that same route, where the last time I was navigating those waters I was saving Cinderella, this time I was leaving her behind to be destroyed, just heartbreaking!!
And to put the nail in the coffin she threw it in my face how she’s been calling my ex (son’s dad) and talking about me, and she just had to point out they had good conversations multiple times. If ANY of this comes up against me in my custody battle I will sue them for defamation. And not to mention that the days that she called my ex, she made ZERO attempt to contact me, all of my missed calls and voicemails are saved in my phone records – so it’s not like she just couldn’t get a hold of me.
The part that really sucks is there are some things that I had gathered that I sat by the back door. Like my grandfather’s American flag that flew in his honor at the capitol, like my son’s Christmas stocking that still had all his gifts in it, some of my personal mail, a little “I love you more” painting that my son had given me, some things articles of clothing that mean nothing to anyone else but were sentimental to me. I should have never deboarded the boat without those things. But I also had an SUV there that they had put a boot on, she had given me my key to the SUV and took the boot off, so I went to tend to it. The boat had sat there unlocked the whole time as people had seen it there unlocked. When we showed up we did not give them any notice that we were coming, just pulled up on the lot and the boat was sitting there unlocked. But as soon as I walked away from the boat the first thing she went and did was to get a padlock and locked the door – with the SOLE intention of keeping me from getting back on and she left for the day. Not like she was concerned about locking anyone else out or locking thieves out. So I walked away without getting those things as well.
UPDATE: 4/25/2018 I just got served papers in Savannah while Albert and I were out to dinner, she’s suing me for like $40,000 to dispose of the boat.