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HomeSouthern CaribbeanGrenadaSecond Wind for Sails: Yacht Clubs Breathe New Life into Donated Boats

Second Wind for Sails: Yacht Clubs Breathe New Life into Donated Boats

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One of the Caribbean youngest, yet among the most active yacht clubs, started with the donation of a boat. An old, beat-up Hobie Cat, to be exact, tells John Whitsett, former commodore of the 2010-founded Petite Calivigny Yacht Club (PCYC), headquartered at Le Phare Bleu Marina on the south coast of Grenada. “Everyone pitched in to get it sailable. We made arrangements with local resorts to occasionally borrow their Hobie Cats so we could have a race or two.” Then in 2013, the founder of the Grenada Chocolate Company, David Friedman (Mott Green), unexpectedly and tragically died. “Mott Green was very ‘green’ in his organic beliefs and practices, which included delivering his organic chocolate bars to Carriacou via his Hobie Cat,” says Whitsett. “After his death, contact was made with his mother requesting what her plans might be for his Hobie Cat. Hearing that a struggling yacht club was interested in the boat, a use she was sure her son would have approved of, she offered to ‘sell’ Mott’s Hobie Cat to the Club for a next-to-nothing price. That was the start of the Club’s dinghy fleet.”

Every year since then, the PCYC has hosted its annual Motts Memorial Hobie Cat Challenge in July. 

Motts Memorial Hobie Cat Challence. Courtesy PCYC
Motts Memorial Hobie Cat Challence. Courtesy PCYC

Why Donate – Giving

Selling a boat can take a long time and incur mounting expenses like marina dockage.

“If the boat is seaworthy and in good condition, why continue with the expenses when donating will probably result in a tax deduction? Also, the donor will be helping a nonprofit organization that develops sailing. It’s a win-win situation,” says Graham Castillo, president of the Puerto Rico Sailing Federation (PUR).

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The Federation received a donation of a Morgan 30 in excellent condition a few years ago. It was auctioned by the organization with proceeds benefiting the National Sailing Sports Authority’s sailors. 

Sometimes it’s all about recognizing a need.

St. Thomas’ Joe Hosie had been friends for years with the late Jimmy Loveland, who founded the Marine Vocational Program (MVP) on St. Thomas. Hosie saw Loveland’s devotion to teaching children and teens maritime skills.

“Jimmy mentioned to me his desire to have a power boat he could accommodate the trainers on, and he said he often thought my 28’ Cape Dory Open Fisherman was the perfect vessel for his needs,” says Hosie. “After a while, I realized I wasn’t using my boat much as there was too much growth accumulation on its hull. I remembered Jimmy’s need and request and decided to give it to him and help out with the kids.”

Those who want to donate their boat to a local sailing program should start by talking to the program manager or commodore of the yacht club, recommends Saskia Revelman, manager at the St. Maarten Yacht Club (SMYC). “Enough storage room and a goal for the boat is critical for the programs to think about before accepting the donation. We all know that owning a boat brings costs, in insurance and maintenance, so it is great to get a boat donated, but taking care of it in the long run is something to take into consideration.”

Revelman adds, “But see the possibilities as well. A donation might come suddenly and bring unexpected possibilities with it. A new boat, new input, and new stimulation for the sailors in the sailing school, and maybe even target a new group that you can include in your program.”

The SMYC recently received a donated Sun Fast 20 from the Kids at Sea Foundation and Maritime School of the West Indies. A Sun Fast 20 is a 20’ keelboat that’s easily accessible, stable, can hold 4 to 5 people, and is ideal for teaching sailing lessons. There is a fleet of 8 individually owned boats on the island that race together regularly.

SMYC Boat Donation. Courtesy SMY
SMYC Boat Donation. Courtesy SMY

Why Seek Donations – Receiving

One of the most important ingredients in obtaining a donation is showing a need.

“If someone is going to make a boat donation, they want to see the vessel put to good use. In addition, it helps to show sustainability. One doesn’t want to give something they have a history with to an organization that is barely hanging on and doesn’t have the funds to maintain the donation,” says PCYC’s Whitsett. 

Since its original Hobie, the PCYC has had several additional dinghies and support boats donated. Some of these have come from Club members, some from residents who are moving, some from local businesses, and some from sailors who have either outgrown a boat or are just giving up sailing.

“Most of our donations have come from a phone call or a chance meeting and have been predominately for our junior program. The conversation line is usually ‘I see the kids out there practicing and I have an X that I am not using. If you can use it, it is at…You will need a truck (or trailer) to pick it up.’ “And that is it,” says Whitsett.

Most of the boats donated to the PCYC have been free with no paperwork required, while others have been very discounted prices and required a Bill of Sales that put a value on the boat, Whitsell says. “If the donation is large enough to justify insurance/and/or a registration, then a Bill of Sale is probably necessary.”

Donated Boat. Courtesy MVP
Donated Boat. Courtesy MVP

The Fine Print

Donating and/or receiving a donated boat can have legal requirements based on local laws. 

“Potential donors make the offer. The boat must have a clean title and no liens. It must have a price or be appraised to generate the donation document that will get the boat’s title transferred to the organization that will then sell it,  auction it, or use it as, for example, part of the educational assets if a sailing school,” says PUR’s Castillo.

The charitable organization should provide boat owners with a written acknowledgment of the donation. This acknowledgment should include details such as the date of the donation, a description of the boat, and a statement confirming whether you received any goods or services in exchange for the donation, says Leigh F. Goldman, Esq. of Goldman Law Offices in St. Thomas, who donated his time to assist with the MVP’s Cape Dory donation in 2016.

“In the US, donating a vessel to a charitable organization has specific tax implications, “ Goldman adds. “The tax forms you’ll need to complete and submit will depend on the value of the donated vessel and the specific circumstances of the donation. You should consult with a tax professional, or accountant experienced in charitable contributions to ensure that you complete the necessary forms correctly and maximize your tax benefits while complying with IRS regulations.”

In the end, the fine print and paperwork can be well worth it.

“Boat donations are very beneficial to developing yacht clubs, sailing clubs, and/or junior programs,” says PCYC’s Whitsett.

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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