US boatyard sues Spirit for unpaid bill

  • Repairs row: the Spirit of Bermuda sails along North Shore (File photograph supplied)

    Repairs row: the Spirit of Bermuda sails along North Shore (File photograph supplied)

A US boatyard has launched legal action against the charity that runs the Spirit of Bermuda in a bid to get almost $45,000 it claimed it is owed for work on the vessel.

Lawyers for Rockport Marine filed a complaint against the Bermuda Sloop Foundation in the District of Maine court this week.

The company asked for a judgment in its favour against the charity “in the amount of its damages, together with interest, costs and reasonable attorney’s fees” after the boat was refitted at the yard.

But the BSF said yesterday that it was disappointed by the lawsuit, which came after additional repair work was needed on the ship and that it intended to settle “appropriate remaining payments” in full.

It was alleged in the complaint that the BSF asked the boatyard, which built the sloop and is based in Rockport, Maine, “to perform services, supply equipment and/or make repairs to the S/V Spirit of Bermuda”.

Documents submitted to the US court added: “Rockport Marine did perform the work and provide the equipment and materials requested of it by BSF.

“Said services and work were carried out within the State of Maine.

“Despite demand, BSF has refused, and continues to refuse, to pay all amounts due Rockport Marine for the costs of the repairs, services and supplies.

“The total amount owed Rockport Marine by BSF as of October 14, 2019 is $44,543.40,”

The complaint, published on the Offshore Alert website, claimed that BSF entered into a maritime contract with Rockport Marine by asking the company to “provide the goods and services and in agreeing to pay”.

It alleged: “Plaintiff has performed each and every one of its obligations under the contract.

“Defendant, by refusing to pay plaintiff all of the monies owed it, and otherwise, has breached the terms of the contract and is liable therefore.”

The complaint, which was provided to The Royal Gazette by the District of Maine division of the US District Court, added: “BSF has received services from plaintiff without having paid for its full value as set forth above.

“BSF has been unjustly enriched in the amount of $44,543.40 together with interest at plaintiff’s expense.”

The complaint explained: “Spirit of Bermuda is a purpose-built sail training vessel based on civilian Bermudian-type schooners built between 1810 and 1840.”

It added: “She has a documented length-on-deck of 86ft and operates to United Kingdom regulations under the Bermuda flag.”

Spirit of Bermuda was launched in August 2006 and became a national icon.

A BSF spokeswoman said yesterday: “Spirit of Bermuda has just completed a very significant marine regulatory compliance refit in Maine after her 13 years of successful operation.

“This work included the fitting of a new engine.

“We were most surprised and disappointed to learn late Tuesday this week, via a press agency, of a writ being filed by Rockport Marine against us in Maine — but not yet served on Bermuda Sloop Foundation — given the many years of BSF’s association with Rockport Marine, which built the ship, and the payment of numerous invoices to date concerning the refit work.

“An engine related defect was encountered soon after departure from Maine during the return voyage to Bermuda.

“As a result, Spirit has had to undergo additional servicing in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, with the consent and involvement of Rockport Marine, and we hope to have the necessary remedial work and sea trials completed by the end of this week.

“Once the responsibilities for this additional work is established and agreed, appropriate remaining payments will be paid in full.”

She added: “BSF, which only learnt of this writ late Tuesday this week, is an honourable Bermuda charity that meets its commitments and will conduct itself in this matter no differently.”

The foundation’s website explained that Spirit of Bermuda’s main focus is a five-day learning coastal expedition for third-year middle-school pupils.

Students benefit from learning by experience, building on social and emotional skills as well as science, technology, engineering, arts and maths subjects.

The website added that the training trips are “embedded in the cultural and historical significance of Bermuda”.

Rockport Marine declined to comment yesterday.

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