See, when we bought the boat, it came with a tender. It’s made by Avon, a British company, it’s 11 feet long, has a fiberglass hull surrounded by inflatable tubes and is powered by a 30 horsepower Suzuki outboard motor.
In Virginia, where we bought the boat, they apparently do not make you register such vessels as long as they are a tender on a larger vessel.
Now, the state of Florida, has no such governmental largesse, and if they thought they could get it past the child welfare freaks, they’d charge you an annual fee to register your kids and make you paste a registration sticker on their foreheads.
So it only makes sense that they fully expected me to register the Avon…and pay the fee to do so.
I already paid sales tax to the state when we brought the big boat into Florida waters, and in an uncharacteristic fit of naive optimism, I thought perhaps this covered the tender also. From the size of the check, I sure thought it should have.
So I called up the friendly folks at the tax collector’s office and talked to them for a while about the intricasies of registering a boat in Florida when it came from out of state, had never, ever been registered anywhere in this solar system, and didn’t have its own bill of sale (remember, it was part of the deal for the big boat).
I think I could have asked to construct a medical waste processing facility between a church and a day-care center and have been subjected to less paperwork and red tape. This was in Orange county where we live.
I stewed over this for a couple weeks and decided to try my luck in Lake county, where our office is located. It’s one county west, and about three decades back.
So one afternoon, with all my boat papers in a neat little manila envelope, I traipsed over to the Lake county tax collector’s office, walked in, took a number and took a seat.
In surprisingly short order, my number was called and I walked to the window to confront a smiling young lady who pleasantly asked what she could do for me.
I announced that I wanted to register my dinghy, and proceeded to deliver a full-out explanation of the circumstances of the out-of-state purchase, the lack of prior registration, the already-paid sales tax, and other details that I felt were germane to the discussion.
As I was rambling on, I noticed she had a bit of a bemused expression on her face, and in fact seemed on the verge of laughing…I stopped and took a breath, and she just looked at me with a semi-straight face and asked… “What’s a dinghy?”
Oh, so that’s it…she thinks maybe I’m some sort of perv.
So, the only thing to do was launch into a necessarily abbreviated discourse on the terminology of nautical craft, including a generalized definition of a dinghy.
Luckily, that seemed to satisfy her, and she took her finger off “the button” under the counter. We then traded a few bits of paper, I wrote out a very reasonably-sized check, and she handed me a brand-spanking new registration sticker and bade me adieu.
Much easier to transact such transactions in Lake county than it would have been in Orange county, and now my dinghy has a shiny registration sticker and the state-mandated registration numbers proudly displayed on its port and starboard inflatable flanks.
I took it to a nearby lake yesterday for it’s first run under power, and a little 11 foot boat with a 30 horse motor really scoots! I’ve seen others putting around some of the anchorages in dinghy’s powered by 6 and 9 horse motors, and they look like they could have been outrun by an overweight manatee. I’m gonna show those guys what a dinghy is supposed to do!