‘Below Deck’: The Fort Lauderdale Boat Show Ends With an Arrest … of a Yacht

For most people, hitting the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show meant basking in the awe of some pretty massive and glamourous vessels. It also meant that Below Deck fans got to meet some of their favorite crew members. Some familiar faces included Colin Macy-O’Toole, chef Ben Robinson and Bobby Giancola from Below Deck Mediterranean.

Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show on November 2, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show on November 2, 2017 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida |Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show

But for the owner of one yacht, it meant their vessel was seized after a $4 million squabble, the Sun Sentinel reports. As the boat show came to a close, U.S. marshals “arrested” the yacht after four different parties had a dispute over the vessel.

The marshalls took the boat to an “undisclosed location” while the parties now try to resolve their dispute. So who is fighting over the yacht and how often are yachts “arrested?”

Are yacht arrests common?

Yacht arrests occur when there is an unresolved dispute. “It happens when there’s a commercial dispute over a vessel,” Alan Swimmer from National Maritime Services told the Sun Sentinel. Swimmer was appointed as the third-party custodian of the yacht in custody by the court.

He added that if the arrest seemed unusual, it is. Yacht arrests only occur with about 100 vessels worldwide. However, Swimmer said up to 10 arrests occur in Fort Lauderdale, Florida alone each year. The city is considered to be the unofficial yachting capital of the world.

A previous boat arrest left a vessel in custody for more than three months. The owner of an empty cargo ship was seized when the owner and the shipping company became embroiled in a financial dispute. The ship came with 11 crew members who too sat in limbo. The ship was finally sold at an auction at the Fort Lauderdale federal courthouse.

The most recent arrest is also around money

The 74-foot yacht seized at the boat show is now in limbo after buyer Kevin Turner claimed that the manufacturer, Sunseeker refused to accredit to him the $4 million he paid to the broker, Rick Obey to have it built. Identifying the specific manufacturer wasn’t easy. Turner spent days trying to confirm that his boat came from the Sunseeker plant in England and was then transferred to the Sunseeker location in the U.S. After learning the vessel’s origin and the route he had to confirm it using the identification numbers on the shipping manifest.

But the yacht’s broker and manufacturer are in their own dispute. The broker claims the manufacturer refused to take responsibility for a devastating engine failure of a client from 2018. This resulted in the broker halting all funding to the manufacturer for spec sales or newly built yachts.

Although the yachting community is disbursed worldwide, the ties and bonds are close. The broker and buyer are actually friends, but the broker told the Sun Sentinel he knows it’s just business. “Kevin’s in a spot,” broker Obey said. “He’s actually my friend, but unfortunately he has to sue me because I sold him the boat. He’s a great guy. He doesn’t deserve this.”