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- Wash your hands to reduce risk of infection.
- Expose the injured area and inspect the wound,
without touching it.
- Gently place clean dressings around the object.
- Place bulky dressings around the object to
keep it from moving. This will apply pressure
to the wound but not the object.
- Secure the bulky dressings in place with
a narrow bandage; taking extra care to ensure
that pressure is not exerted on the embedded
Are Boat Auctions a Bargain?
Boat/US Magazine, Jan, 2005 by Caroline Ajootian
Every year, boats that are literally and figuratively
washed up because of accidents, fires, sinkings and storm
damage live to float again when they are sold at auction,
often for rock bottom prices.
Last year was no exception. Weeks of non-stop hurricane
activity on the East Coast in September and October yielded
a bumper crop of thousands of seriously damaged and dented
vessels, many of which can be viewed online at boatus.com/hurricanes/liquidators.
The temptation to buy one of these vessels is strong when
you consider what seem to be give-away prices.
For example, how about the possibility of buying a 1998
36-foot Tiara for under $20,000? At less than a tenth
of what the boat would normally sell for, it sounds pretty
good--until you consider that Hurricane Frances left a
15-foot split in the hull and unzippered the hull-to-deck
joint for 20 feet. And, it's anyone's guess what shape
the twin turbo-charged Cummins engines are in.
On the other hand, for someone who wants a little runabout,
there are any number of boats with only slight damage
that could be picked up for a song.
Separating the good buys from the proverbial "holes
in the water" takes a lot more than just luck. Potential
buyers of auction vessels can improve their odds by using
some common sense.
"Whether you're buying a boat at salvage, on the
Internet or from an ad in the paper, always hire a marine
surveyor to inspect it," advises Carroll Robertson,
vice president of BoatU.S. Marine Insurance Claims, who
put up for auction at least 500 of the thousands of vessels
totaled by hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne
"For the couple of hundred dollars that you spend,
even as much as $1,000, a thorough survey inspection is
worth its weight in gold," warns Robertson.
Marine surveyor referrals are available online at boatus.com/insurance/survey.
Long distance buyers can hire a marine surveyor located
near the auction site to evaluate the boat and report
on its condition.
Sully Sutherlin, owner and founder of U.S. Auctions, one
of the major online boat auction houses handling disposal
of totaled vessels for BoatU.S. Marine Insurance, observes,
"The nice thing about a damaged boat is that you
don't have to put it back into perfect shape if you just
want something to get out on the water with. You can skip
some of the aesthetics."
Still, he cautions, "Damaged boats are not for everyone.
They require expertise and resources," in other words,
elbow grease and money.
Auction boats are also a good source for parts needed
for boat restoration projects. However, most online auction
houses do not sell individual parts or engines. So, if
you need a special bow rail or window frame, you might
just have to buy the whole boat.
U.S. Auctions "posts pictures along with everything
we know about damage and type of boat and engine,"
Sutherlin said. "We can tell you if it sank. If there's
anything derogatory we'll say it. We don't pull any punches.
But, if it doesn't have owner records, we don't touch
The company, like most other online auctions, offers no
guarantees about physical condition. Boats are sold "as
is, where is" with clear titles and no liens. Sutherlin
says his company makes a 10% commission on every boat
Potential buyers should take advantage of the week or
longer preview period before bidding closes to have would-be
prizes inspected by a marine surveyor. Once the sale goes
through, buyers have three days to make another inspection
and during that period they can notify the auctioneer
if they wish to cancel the deal. Cancellations must be
done in writing. After the three days are up, there's
no turning back. The boat is yours.
"We are the intermediary between the insurance company
or seller and the buyer," Sutherlin says. "What
we're mainly interested in is a fair auction. We don't
allow any shenanigans."
That means the auction house watches online bidding like
a hawk. "Bid manipulation is prohibited," the
company's Web site warns. In other words, individuals
are not allowed to place bids simply to drive up the price.
U.S. Auction's online sales are handled by eBay and buyers
are urged to use the proxy bidding feature. This allows
the bidder to place a "maximum" bid for the
most he is willing to pay. This amount is confidential.
eBay's computer bids for the buyer in increments small
enough to outbid others. It will not automatically raise
the bid to the full amount. Bidding on most auction boats
begins at $1, since they are sold without a minimum price
The sale is open for one week and "the last person
standing is the winner," Sutherlin says.
"The problem with salvage boats sold at auction is
that there are definitely unscrupulous people" who
buy them for resale and don't disclose previous damages
once they've made some cosmetic improvements. Sutherlin
adds, "There are dealers who take boats on trade
and don't find out until later [about serious damages].
They don't want to get stuck with a wreck so they pass
it on again to someone else" without revealing the
Although sellers are required to reveal defects or conditions
that adversely affect a boat's use, value or safety, there
are no databases or resources for consumers to independently
research a vessel's history, Sutherlin says.
"There is no uniform salvage titling law for boats
like there is for cars," warns Robertson of BoatU.S.
Marine Insurance. But, there is a silver lining, at least
for salvage boats sold in Florida.
"In Florida, if a total loss is paid on a boat by
an insurance company, the law requires that the insurance
company's name be put on the title," she says. "So,
if you buy a boat in Florida and see an insurance company
on the title, it's a giveaway that the boat had been totaled."
Each year, the BoatU.S. Consumer Protection Bureau hears
from boat owners who purchased what they thought were
used boats with spotless histories, only to learn that
they contain damages caused by manufacturing defects or
accidents. Even experienced folks who "know boats"
will benefit by having an objective pair of eyes examine
a potential purchase.
To learn more about boats being sold at auction through
BoatU.S., visit boatus.com/hurricanes/liquidators or visit
the following Web sites of online auction firms handling
boat sales: USAuctions.com, yachtsalvage.com, Global Marine
Services (insalvage.com) and National Liquidators (yachtauctions.com)
RELATED ARTICLE: SWITLIK FLOATS LIFE RAFT RECALL
Switlik Parachute Co. has discovered that a certain number
of its life rafts contain serious safety defects that
could result in the units either self-inflating or not
inflating at all when needed. In October, the company
issued a safety alert covering a range of life rafts manufactured
as early as 1997.
According to the Trenton, NJ, company, its proprietary
Switlik inflation valve can malfunction if it is exposed
to an "unusual and extreme combination of temperatures."
The problem became apparent in 2004 after a weather one-two
punch featuring a hot summer followed by record low winter
temperatures in the Northeast. The conditions which might
result in a problem are exposure to temperatures above
95[degrees] F followed by exposure to temperatures below
Company president Richard Switlik explained: "These
temperatures are well within the normal operating range
of the valve, which is built to meet international standards,
but it was the combination of hot and cold temperatures
that created just the right conditions for potential failure.
Only this unusual combination of temperature extremes
might possibly result in a failure."
Apparently, extreme temperature swings cause O-ring seals
in the valves to lose their elasticity. The valves are
fitted with two pairs of O-ring seals. If the forward
pair fails, the raft will self-inflate. If the other pair
fails, the gas in the cylinder can escape, which normally
would not be obvious until an attempt was made to use
Although Switlik reports that a handful of rafts self-inflated,
the company says they've identified only one "suspected
According to Switlik, "Most rafts will not experience
this combination of temperatures and of those that do,
virtually none will be affected."
Owners of the listed life rafts who suspect that their
units may have been exposed to temperature extremes and
whose life rafts were serviced prior to June 15, 2004,
should have their rafts serviced immediately.
Switlik will provide a free piston and O-ring replacement
kit and is covering the cost of installation by a Switlik
authorized service station.
The upgrade will be provided free during annual maintenance
of rafts that may not have been exposed to extreme temperatures.
Switlik stresses that their life rafts "must be serviced
annually by a factory authorized service station. While
many recreational life raft owners do not follow the factory
service recommendations, not being required to do so by
regulation, or turn to unauthorized service stations,
this would be a good excuse to get that overdue service
done, and done right."
The following Switlik life raft models are covered by
the Safety Alert:
* MRP-10 mfr'd 9/96 to 4/1/04
* MD Series (MD-1, MD-2) mfr'd 4/97 to 4/1/04
* Coastal Series (CLR Mk-II) mfr'd 1/00 to 4/1/04
* USCG (CGR Mk-II) mfr'd 1/00 to 4/1/04
* SAR-6/8 Mk-I mfr'd 9/96 to 4/1/04
* SAR-6 Mk-II mfr'd 9/98 to 4/1/04
* POD-4 mfr'd 8/96 to 4/1/04
* POD-8 Marine mfr'd 08/01 to 4/1/04
* Any life rafts that have been re-equipped with S-2630
valves mfr'd before 4/1/04
The Switlik safety alert is being conducted on a voluntary
basis because life rafts are not regulated by the U.S.
Coast Guard, which normally oversees defect recall campaigns
of boats and marine engines.
Owners of the Switlik affected life rafts who have not
already been contacted by the manufacturer should do so
immediately, 609-587-3300 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information about the safety alert is online at their
Web site, www.switlik.com.
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