PECKS’ BOATS, INC. BOAT TRANSPORT POLICY FOR BRANCHES, WIRES, AND OTHER OBSTACLES
Pecks’ Boats, Inc. has always been dedicated to making it affordable for an average person to own a boat. We haul boats over land primarily because there is not enough room for folks who can’t store in their yards to keep their boats in marinas. Furthermore, marina storage has become unaffordable to most of us, and boat owners are often denied access to their boats, thwarting do-it-yourselfers.
Traditionally, John Peck took exceptional care with boats. He kept boat ownership affordable by forging a natural kind of partnership so as to share both the responsibilities and risks of boat moving between the boat mover and the customer. Now that John has left us, we are formalizing the kind of relationship he had with his customers by turning Pecks’ Boats, Inc. into a consumer cooperative housed on the boatyard property. By spelling out one of the most important aspects of keeping local marine transport affordable, we are building a foundation for the cooperative, which will primarily support the beleaguered sailing community while addressing environmental and sustainability issues for our maritime community.
Moving boats in and out of the water to overwinter on land is a complex and challenging job. John Peck discovered early on that to keep the business financially viable and services affordable, we need a simple rule: We cannot be held responsible for damage done by branches, twigs, low-hanging wires, and other things that we cannot avoid while going over the road and accessing boats on land. Although we often make reconnaissance missions, we can’t go down every road before the job or inspect every driveway, side lot, or back yard where a boat is stored. We can’t tell the amount of damage a small branch might do. We can’t dodge branches on corners or when there are cars coming at us from the other direction. And we can’t afford to turn around or obliterate our schedule to correct a situation. We have only survived because we have a strong customer base who understands this.
The days when John could legally cure tree problems on public roads with a chain saw have long passed, but you can remove obstructions on your own property. We count on you to keep your trees and bushes trimmed and to remove obstacles so that we can move your boat without damaging grass, shrubs, plantings, or outdoor paraphernalia – not to mention your boat or our vehicles and equipment. We need your yard to be clear and ready for us when we arrive, so we can be efficient and stick to our schedule. Sometimes you may need to cut trees or reposition mailboxes or lamp posts. To be viable, we also need you to be reasonable about where we put your boat, but that is a different discussion…
Be assured that we always take precautions and have relatively few problems. When we do make mistakes that cause damage, we are willing to do the repairs. We do have insurance to cover severe damage, but our deductible is too large ($5000) and our margin too small to take responsibility for minor incidents beyond our control. The insurance industry makes it unaffordable to make a claim for most risks, much less common risks. It’s up to you to decide whether you are more comfortable with the risk or with purchasing your own insurance to cover incidental damage. But when push comes to shove, the incidental scratch or scrape can usually be buffed out without much trouble; the snagged and bent turnbuckle or hardware can be fixed or replaced. When comparing the cost of keeping a boat in a marina to the cost of having it hauled by us, only a huge amount of damage could counterbalance the financial advantages of using a boat hauler instead of a marina.
We are sympathetic when there is damage: Even when we are not technically at fault, we are willing to supply parts to you at our cost, and we may lend a hand or expertise when the busy season is over if a fix is too much for you. We are currently too small to pause our schedule during the hauling/launching seasons to address damage done, but as a cooperative we believe we can expand and self-insure better than any insurance company by developing horizontal and vertical services.
We need this Transport Policy in place and understood as a form of self-insurance that we all participate in to protect us against the crushing impact of an insurance industry and litigious culture that has gone mad. Ultimately, we hope you trust that we are competent and doing our best, and that the risk of serious damage is small. Beyond the risk, it is this tradition of frank discussion and sharing responsibility with the boat owners that underlies our belief in the feasibility of forming a cooperative. Working together, we can not only provide dependable, resilient marine services, but also support more environmentally responsible boating for generations to come.