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The story below was posted on a trawler forum this week. This cruiser's story is why the TrawlerFest seminar "Boat Buyers Survival Guide," includes a segment we call "staying two steps ahead of the tax man." The ambush happened while he was docked at New Bern, shown above.

Have spoken to the county tax authorities a few times. Though we did not know about the tax our boat is subject because we stayed for six consecutivemonths, actually from May 2016 to April 2017.  .

The boat was in wet storage and we only cruised it for six to seven weeks in the fall. Argued that would break the six-month rule but they said as long as you are paying for the slip, whether the boat is there or not, you have to pay.

This applies to all marinas in North Carolina, not just New Bern. It would have been nice if the marina had let us know this law existed. When I called and spoke to the harbor master he said "Yes, of course there is a personal property tax. I pay it for my two boats". (Wish he had told me when we arrived.)

The tax folks contact the marinas and get the details of your contract.You can avoid by leaving after five months and coming back a month or two later. Know we know.Just to rub salt in the wound, we were charged a $177 late fee. Came on the first ,and only, bill we received about a week ago. How can you pay late when you don't have a bill?

Tried to get that eliminated by no dice by the county. The tax is $1669!!! Not a trivial amount! Thinking about contacting an attorney in New Bern and see if there is something we can do. Since we have no legal contacts there and it sounds like we are stuck, it doesn't look like a viable option.

We will be reprising this two-morning seminar at TrawlerFest in Stuart, Florida, on March 8-9, 2018. Keep an eye out for an announcement that we have begun taking registrations online. The teacher is attorney Todd Lochner, whose office is in Annapolis, Maryland. Lochner specializes in boat taxation cases, and he's got plently of stories like the one above.

The idea behind this eight-hour class is to arm buyers with the information they need to minimize frustration and unnecessary expense. There are six “team teach” instructors, including Lochner, with individual presentations and a group panel session at the end of each morning. Stand by for an announcement that we have opened registrations. More Info.