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  Having difficulty registering a Michigan Whaler in Indiana -- Help

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Author Topic:   Having difficulty registering a Michigan Whaler in Indiana -- Help
SuburbanBoy posted 07-26-2001 11:38 PM ET (US)   Profile for SuburbanBoy   Send Email to SuburbanBoy  
Help please--
In February of this year, I purchased what I believe is a 15’ 1979 Striper that was registered in Michigan through March 31, 2002. I was told that all I needed to transfer title and register the boat in Indiana was the piece of paper entitled “Michigan Watercraft Registration”. On the backside of this paper, is an area where the current owner can sign and certify that she/he has sold the boat. There is also a line, which is to be filled in with the selling price. The first sentence on the backside reads “Upon sale of this vessel, present this registration (and title, if titled) to the purchaser”. The seller told me that for Michigan back in 1979, boats of my Whalers size/value did not require titles. Here is my predicament. According to the Indiana License Bureau, in 1979, the only boats in Michigan that did not require a title were priced under $3,000. They are unaware of any size threshold. When I was asked what “model” is my 15’ Whaler, I proudly proclaimed “Striper”. The wheels of bureaucracy jumped into motion. In a flash they were on the phone with HQ and determined that in 1979, a 15’ Striper had a list price of $3,175! OOPS! My wife correctly argued that “Nobody pays list price! and therefore it did cost less that $3,000. This argument was to no avail. The Indiana License Bureau requested a letter from Michigan stating that this particular boat does not (did not) require a title in Michigan. This will be a tough sell, calling from Indiana, and requesting that they (Michigan) certify that my boat does not require a title in Michigan, and, while your at it please fax this information to me at your expense.

Here are my questions:
I assume that someone can ID my exact model and 1979 list price from my Hull Identification Number, which is BWC1473BM79C.
Is my boat a 1979 Striper?
What was the list price of a 1979 15’ Striper?
What was the list price of a 1979 15’ Sport?
What was the cheapest 1979 15’ model, and what was its list price?
As we own property in Michigan, should I just re-title and register it in Michigan? (I would really prefer an Indiana title and registration)
Any ideas about the Indiana registration process, which might enable me to register it in Indiana?

Thanks for all of your suggestions,


Tom W Clark posted 07-27-2001 01:15 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     

If the ID # you've provided is correct, then it's a '79. I've seen the photos of your boat and it's a Striper. What did it cost new? Not sure. I bought a '79 Striper new in August of '79. In fact, I bought it boat only! (I bought the motor from another dealer a month later and I used the trailer from my 13' Sport which I had just sold; God! I was cheap back then) For the life of me I cannot recall how much I paid, but it sure as heck wasn't list!

If I may digress for a moment, I'll share this tale of the salesman who got the sale and the one who didn't:

I had sold my 13' Sport with the plan of getting a 15' Striper. I went to my favorite boat dealer here in Seattle, Jacobsen's Boats and Motors (at the time the largest Whaler dealer in the world) walked in the door and approached the counter.

The salesman I talked to was named Orville. Orville was a long time Jacobsen's employee. He was older and always seemed to chew the fat with the old timers and the fishermen but he did not like snot nosed kids who came in to "kick tires". I was sixteen at the time and I told him I wanted to buy a 15' Striper. "How much would you sell me one for?" I asked. He reached for his Boston Whaler price book, the little 3 x 8 pamphlet printed in red ink listing all the boats and accessories and their list price. Orville found the 15' Striper and then quoted me the list price. I was shocked! How could he do this? Jacobsen's had (and still has) a really good reputation and they are really nice there as well. But not Orville. I asked if I heard him correctly. He repeated the list price. I thanked him and drove to the other Seattle area Whaler dealer, Davidson's, in Kenmore.

I walked into Davidson's and was attended to by one of the Davidson brothers (I forget which one) I explained what I wanted, he whipped out his Boston Whaler price book, did a calculation on his calculator and told me the price. I was very pleased. I recognized that the quoted price was quite a bit off list and I then realized Orville had simply "brushed me off". I wrote a check for the deposit and eagerly awaited the arrival of my new Whaler from the factory in a few weeks.

Anyway, back to your predicament, I cannot recall how much that boat was but I'm pretty sure it was well over $3k. But I'm on the West coast and shipping amounts to something, ect., ect...

It's all irrelevant. Your boat cost new, whatever it cost. Who knows? The only issue here is: did it have a title or didn't it? Whether or not a title was required is not relevant either. If it didn't, then it didn't, nothing to be done about it now. You are still entitled to own it and license it in Indiana.

Surely Michigan can tell you if it did or did not have a title. Gathering this info can't be that difficult. But at any rate it strikes me as absurd that Indiana wouldn't accommodate you; wouldn't they like to get their licensing fees? Of course they would.

I really think this is one of those situations where you need to make it painful for them to tell you "no". Get your facts straight and then go back to them and really give them heck! Nothing is black and white, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease!

jimh posted 07-27-2001 08:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you don't have a Michigan title, I don't know how you're going to invent one to satisfy the State of Indiana.

This reminds me of the situation I was in when I bought a Whaler that was on a trailer without plates or registration. I wanted to register the trailer, but a clerk at the Secretary of State office told me I had to have its weight as recorded on a certified scale, etc.

I tired to explain that in order to weight the trailer I'd have to take the boat off, etc., and I didn't have any place to leave the boat while I went to the scales. The clerk had no sympathy, I would have to have the weight.

I never was able to weigh the trailer but I did get a brochure from the manufacturer that stated the weight.

I went to the Sec'y of State's office to register the trailer, armed with all this info about it weight. The clerk filling out the paperwork asks me "Weight?"...

I start the long saga of how I can't weigh the trailer, and so on....

"That's OK," says the clerk, "we just need the approximate weight so we can put it in the proper fee category. Does it weigh over 2,000 pounds?"

Well, of course it doesn't, it just weighs 350 pounds according to the brochure. The clerk writes "350" in the weight column. Now my trailer officially weighs 350 pounds.

The point is that not all the clerks at the Secretary of State's office are on a mission from above to follow the letter of every regulation and rule. So maybe you can find a sympathetic clerk and get your Whaler titled in Indianna without having to get special legislation passed in Michigan!


JFM posted 07-27-2001 09:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for JFM  Send Email to JFM     
In some states, including Ohio, a notarized bill of sale with the boat, motor and trailer serial #'s are enough. I have had some problems with this in the past. The best thing to do is go to an independent license agency of the state and talk to the management. They have always been more helpful than most state employees to me. Regards, Jay
SuburbanBoy posted 07-27-2001 02:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for SuburbanBoy  Send Email to SuburbanBoy     
Got it!
The State of Michigan was kind enough to fax me a page out of their water craft regulatory manual which stated that any craft under 20' without a permanent power plant did not require a title. As my 15' is powered by a 70hp outboard, I qualified. Brought this faxed sheet along with my previously signed registration papers to a different license branch. I signed a sheet of paper swearing that, to the best of my knowledge my boat originally cost $2,850 (as my wife said, who pays list price!). About $100 later I had my numbers assigned and my Whaler was registered until Sept. of 2002. Now to figure out how to remove the old Michigan numbers and locate a source for the new numbers (probably West Marine). Thanks to all who commented and hope this explaination can assist others attempting to register an old classic in Indiana. Now it is on to launching practice and motor break-in, followed by South Haven and Charlevoix Michigan for two weeks.


jimh posted 07-27-2001 02:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Use a heat gun and carefully pulling to remove the old numbers.

WD-40 also works well as a solvent to remove the gummy residue left behind.

Use some light rubbing compound, then polish and wax the area before applying the new numbers.


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