Skeptical about Mystic schooner plan

Those reading The Day's coverage about the attempted purchase of schooner Mystic should be hearing the same alarm bells that I do.

Chris German, the founder and CEO of Connecticut Community Boating, paints a picture of simplicity. He told the Day of his plans, now delayed, to seek $400,000 in state funding toward the $500,000 "down payment" on the $1.8 million purchase. The plan, apparently, is that the rest of the cost would be paid off over five years with revenue generated by its use as an educational vessel for at-risk urban children

Mr. German has set up a web site to ask people to give him donations toward $100,000 the state will require in matching money. Then, totally under capitalized, he immediately operates the vessel to pay it off.

I think not, and here is why:

1. The vessel will have to be Coast Guard inspected under Subchapter R as a school ship.

2. The vessel has not had a Coast Guard required drydock inspection since it was launched in 2007. That level of neglect will generate a yard bill easily in excess of $100,000.

3. The Coast Guard put Mystic in the "out of service" category on May 8, 2009. It is not surprising that the Certificate of Inspection was deactivated as there is no indication in the vessel's records that the required two-year drydocking was done. This is what the Coast Guard refers to as a drop-dead date, meaning no extentions. No two-year haul out, no certificate of inspection.

4. There are items of primary lifesaving equipment that must be removed, sent to a certified inspection station, inspected, repacked and reinstalled. The cost is based on the capacity of the units and their age. It is sufficient to say "thousands of dollars" comes to mind.

5. Mr. German states that if this deal falls through there are schooners available internationally. Wrong! The vessel has to be American built to be in this service.

Looking at the five points above, a conclusion can be made. At best Mr. German is unaware of these issues or, at worst, he is purposely hiding them from his would be donors, including Connecticut.

Capt. Brad Glas is the president of the National Party Boat Owners Alliance.

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