Our Thompson Brothers Runabout Part 5 – The State of Ohio vs Jones – Part One

Well…now that I’ve calmed down a bit I think I can tell the tale of how the State of Ohio has a stack of paper work that must be done by boaters when getting a license.

Some background first about Ohio: we were recently noted by Forbes Magazine as having FOUR of the fastest declining cities in America.  CONGRATULATIONS OHIO…ESPECIALLY CLEVELAND, YOUNGSTOWN, CANTON, AND MY HOMETOWN DAYTON!  How Toledo was missed I don’t know.

So a state that is in decline now invites business in by having stacks of paperwork to wade through to get ANYTHING DONE!

My story is this:

I purchased the boat from a friend for “X” dollars.  He brought it into Ohio from Michigan.  It had never been in Ohio water.  NEVER!   I went to get a license and title issued, at the title office was told that I needed the original owner (seller) to pay to get an Ohio title, and then transfer this to me so I can pay for my title the next day.  However IF the boat is under 14 feet, no title is required.  If no title is required then I can take the bill of sale to the license bureau, and get a license for the boat.  But not so fast…

I asked how do I prove the boat is actually 13 feet 6 inches as described via the internet specs?  The nice lady at the title office said I should contact the Department of Natural Resources, Division of Watercraft to come out and inspect the vessel, measure it and take the hull ID number.

I explained that this old boat did not have a hull ID despite my researching on the internet, and then looking all over the boat for the number.  “Oh!” she said…”then the Division of Watercraft will have to inspect the hull and confirm there is no hull ID number, and then issue you an Ohio hull ID number.”

Hmmmm….something tells me this won’t be easy.

I called the Watercraft Division and set an appointment to have the paperwork done to prove that the vessel was in fact under 14 feet and had no hull ID number.  A nice officer showed up at the appointed time and did the paperwork verifying I was telling the truth.  He filled out a form that had the info of the boat, and upon getting to the manufacturer asked (since the boat was stripped of all paint down to the wood.) “How do I know this is a Thompson other than you saying so?”

Surprised I said “We found the original decals under two coats of paint while stripping it.”

Officer: “Did you save the decals?”

Greg: “I don’t know how to save decals that I want to remove with Zip-Strip.  We stripped the boat to do a proper restoration.  That means everything goes down to wood.  It would look kind silly with a big patch of paint and some Thompson decals under my stained and varnished wood…wouldn’t it?”

Officer: “Can you prove it is a Thompson?

Greg: “Well we took pictures of the decals when we were stripping it.  I could show you those on my laptop.”

I showed him the pictures, and that seemed to be enough proof…thank God!

A few days later the paperwork shows up from the Watercraft Divison.  In reviewing it I find he has listed the wrong year of manufacture.  I call the Div. office, and they tell me they will have to call Columbus HQ to find out how to fix it.

Upon a call back in less than an hour they told me that they would issue new paperwork and a new hull ID. 

Jeez.  Okay fine, they were very helpful at least.   But we still seemed to be going the long way around the barn here!

Next I bought a 1957 Johnson Sea Horse 18 on Ebay.  The Watercraft officer mention I’d need title for any motor over 10 hp.  This is an 18 hp motor.  I contacted the seller and asked if he had title for the motor.  He said it didn’t need one due to being grandfathered due to its age.  I double checked this with the Watercraft officer, and he assured me a title was needed, and “suggested”…”Give me the contact info of the seller.  We’ll contact him since selling the motor without a title is a felony iin Ohio.”

I said “Wait a second.  Before we take this train out of the station, and railroad this guy to jail…I’ll call him.   He’s just a guy selling the motor for his dead grandfather.”

Well upon contacted the seller, who had called the license bureau and found he did need a title.  How to obtain this for a motor that wasn’t his?  He was told to make a tracing of the serial number and bring to the title office, and a title would be issued.  You’ve got to be kidding!?!?  That’s it!?!?

The seller did so, I drove to his house in eastern Ohio to pick it up, and we and got the title notorized on a Saturday afternoon on July 4th weekend and the title and motor were mine.  Yippee!  I came home on Monday and had the title cut for in my name…case closed.

There’s more to the story when we return to the boat registration, but that’ll be next time.


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