Pegu Club’s original owner had documented her with the U.S. Coast Guard, and we wanted to reinstate it. For us, the primary advantage of registering her is that it can make customs entry and clearance easier in foreign ports. Jeff also likes the fact that a documented vessel doesn’t display its numbers on the outside of the boat. Just an aesthetics thing.
Once a boat is documented, it’s documented forever. However, reinstating the documentation can be easier said than done. I had read in multiple places that the people who work at the Coast Guard National Vessel Documentation Center are very friendly and helpful, so after reading through their website I decided to call to make sure I understood the necessary steps.
Well, I must have gotten the one employee who is not friendly and helpful. She was pissy and discouraging, telling me that I would need to trace the ownership since the boat was last documented and provide proof of a clear title. Hmmm. Given that the last time the boat was documented was in 1977 with the original owner, this could prove to be a problem.
I posted on the Women Who Sail page on Facebook and received several suggestions that I needed to hire an agent to handle this. I was ready to do that until I remembered I was an attorney – a municipal attorney no less. Surely this was something I could do. So I read through the various federal regulations and hit the internet to try to track down the prior owners.
The person we bought Pegu Club from gave me the name of who he had purchased the boat from, and Google showed contact information on Long Island. I was also able to find the contact information – also on Long Island – of Pegu Club’s original owner. My strategy was going to be that I would contact both of these people and see if they could remember who they had sold the boat to, then contact that person, and repeat the process until I was finished. If I hit a dead end, the regulations appeared to provide for a waiver upon application. In the meantime, the person who sold her to us (who lives in New York City) kindly signed and returned a notarized Coast Guard Bill of Sale that I had mailed to him.
I decided that before I began calling total strangers, I was going to try the Vessel Documentation Center one more time. This time one of the friendly and helpful people answered the phone. She asked for the official number of the boat (something the first person never did), and I heard the keys clicking on her keyboard.
“Good news!” she said. The original owner had notified the Coast Guard when she sold the boat! This is not something that always happens. All we had to do was submit the notarized bill of sale, an application to exchange the certificate, and the requisite fees. No need to try and track down all of the previous owners. Hooray!
We submitted our application towards the end of September. The Coast Guard website showed that we would likely get our documentation in early February, so in the interim we waited, with my half-expecting to receive a letter at some point telling us that our application had been rejected and I needed to track down all of the owners since 1977.
Fortunately, on Monday this arrived in the mail:
Pegu Club is now officially documented! One more necessary step towards cruising can be crossed off of the list.