Q: Can I chain a customers boat to the dock for non payment?

I own a commercial diving business that does underwater hull cleaning and yacht maintenance. I had a customer bring his boat to the marina where I am currently staying on my own boat. After I took care of his boat he didn't show up to pay me or get his boat at the time we agreed. Rather than wait around hoping he would show up, I chained his boat to the dock. I left a card on his boat with my number, and left a spare key with the dockmaster at the marina. He also had not yet paid for the boat slip at the marina.

As far as I can tell, this is no different than an auto mechanic keeping your vehicle until you pay them.

Was I within my legal right to lock his boat up until he showed up to pay?

Thank you!

1 Lawyer Answer
Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
  • Maritime Law Lawyer
  • Little Neck, NY

A: Only a Florida attorney could advise you on your specific question. But you posted under Admiralty/Maritime Law, and under U.S. maritime law, a remedy that is sometimes applied in settings where vessel interests owe money is a maritime lien. This comes up in ship mortgages, vessel collisions, crew injuries, services rendered, or other instances that create liabilities against a vessel. Maritime liens travel with a vessel from one port to another. One option you have is to consult with a Florida attorney who handles such liens. From your post, it isn't clear what city you are in, but there are many maritime law firms in Florida. Good luck

Tim Akpinar

Charles M. Baron agrees with this answer

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