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Man claims marina is twisting maritime abandonment laws Ken Amaro, First Coast News

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. -- Devitt Harrison is fighting to recover his houseboat, River Escape."

"This is a case of what I believe is pirating on the St. Johns," he said," manipulating a law that was meant for good."

Harrison said his nightmare began last October while traversing the St. Johns river he stopped at the Green Cover Springs Marina.

"I stopped in for fuel and to have minor service done by this marina; cleaning the prop," he said.

Harrison said in November he tried to pick it up his boat but couldn't because the Marina had misplaced one of the two keys for the boat, so he left the boat and was waiting for them to locate the keys

"(Repeated) phone calls have you all found the keys yet," he said, "I wasn't trying to press them."

April 2014 the marina email him an invoice for $534.47 for storage charges, he said he thought it was a mistake.

"I contacted them to say there must be some mistake here cause you can't expect me to take the boat without the keys," said Harrison," you were suppose to get back with me to let me know about the keys.

Sometime either before or after, the marina declared the vessel as being abandoned. Then the management hired a company to do a title search and notify Harrison. According to the documents the notice was sent to an address on the title which is different to the address on the billing invoice.

"They're alleging that they contact me that they were taking the boat I have nothing to that regard whatsoever," said Harrison.

Harrison has filed a complaint with the Clay county Sheriff's office which is now investigating to see if this is civil or a criminal case.

Bob Speakman is president of the Marina.

"We never heard from him; he left his boat, he said he was tired of it," said Speakman.

Speakman said at one point the marina had found someone to buy the boat for $15 thousand and Harrison was interested until the would be buyer reneged and offered to buy it for $5000 instead.

"We took possession of the boat for lack of storage payment," said Speakman " and we did it according to the rules."

"I want my boat back," said Harrison.

The boat with is titled "River Escape" is now behind a barbed wire fence in dry dock and the marina president said at this point Harrison has one of two options if he wants his boat.

"He can put in a bid on it on Craigslist,' said Speakman," or he can take us to court and let a judge decide."

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