Derelict, Abandoned & At Risk Vessels

At Risk Vessels

AT RISK vessels are a concern for the boating public in the state of Florida. Presently, State, County, and Local Law Enforcement Officers are keeping their eyes on these vessels.

At-Risk vessels are defined in Florida Statute 327.4107, This act shall take effect July 1, 2016

An officer of the commission or of a law enforcement agency specified in s. 327.70 may determine that a vessel is at risk of becoming derelict if any of the following conditions exist:

  1. The vessel is taking on or has taken on water without an effective means to dewater.
  2. Spaces on the vessel that are designed to be enclosed are incapable of being sealed off or remain open to the elements for extended periods of time.
  3. The vessel has broken loose or is in danger of breaking loose from its anchor.
  4. The vessel is left or stored aground unattended in such a state that would prevent the vessel from getting underway, is listing due to water intrusion, or is sunk or partially sunk.
  5. The vessel does not have an effective means of propulsion for safe navigation within 72 hours after the vessel owner or operator receives telephonic or written notice, which may be provided by facsimile, electronic mail, or other electronic means, stating such from an officer, and the vessel owner or operator is unable to provide a receipt, proof of purchase, or other documentation of having ordered necessary parts for vessel repair.

A person who anchors or moors a vessel at risk of becoming derelict on the waters of this state or allows such a vessel to occupy such waters commits a noncriminal infraction, punishable as provided in s. 327.73.

Claiming Abandoned Vessels

In the State of Florida there are no "Vessel Salvage Rights". In order to claim title to an abandoned vessel, you must follow the Statutes for Found Property. 705.102 FS requires a person to report found property to Law Enforcement.  After this has been done, you may begin the process of claiming found property.

Useful Links for Vessel Buyers & Sellers

In Florida there is a legal requirement to complete when buying or selling a vessel. It requires more than just a bill of sale, and if not done correctly could subject you to criminal charges, Fines and Fees! Click the links below to see how to properly buy and sell vessels in Florida.

No person shall sell, assign or transfer a vessel titled by the State of Florida without delivering to the purchaser or transferee a valid certificate of title with an assignment on it showing transfer of title to the purchaser or transferee. No person shall purchase or otherwise acquire a vessel required to be titled by the state without obtaining a certificate of title for it in their name.

Vessel sellers are required by Florida law to notify the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles that they have sold their vessel within 30 days of the sale and vessel buyers also have 30 days to transfer the title. Failure to do so by either party could result in criminal charges to the seller, the buyer or both.

Abandoned Vessels

Florida is plagued with many abandoned vessels. These vessels become derelict vessels quickly and then subject the boating public to safety issues, become locations for illegal activity, illegal housing, opportunities for theft and vandalism and ultimately cost the taxpayers to be removed by Local, County or State authorities.

FWC Facts:
If you're boating through an unfamiliar waterway, stay within the marked channels.

Learn More at AskFWC