POULSBO – While the boat he abandoned still appears to be floating on Liberty Bay, court documents reveal that Daniel J. Webb, owner of the abandoned 94-foot long tugboat, has had a history of trouble keeping his head above water.
The boat is one of several Webb has abandoned. In one case, he left a boat in Alaska, its interior gutted and its mortgage unpaid. In another case, a boat he abandoned cost a port district $100,000.
Contacted by Kitsap News Group, Webb admitted owning boats he left behind in Liberty Bay and Port Townsend, but said he had nothing to do with the boat in Alaska. The boat’s broker, however, identified him in a photograph supplied by a source close to Webb.
Bankruptcies and boats
According to public records, Webb filed for bankruptcy on six occasions between 1999 and 2015. All but one of the cases filed were with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Salt Lake City. Despite declaring bankruptcy multiple times, Webb purchased at least two large boats, one of which he abandoned in Port Townsend.
Webb’s dubious legal history extends past spreading himself too thin financially. Dave Carlson first met Webb through his capacity as a boat broker, when Webb inquired about a boat Carlson had listed.
“I had a nice old classic boat for sale at Westport and he rode in my car with me to Westport to look at the boat,” Carlson said.
After showing Webb the boat, Carlson was contacted by the seller after Webb had contacted the marina to find out if the boat owner had been paying for moorage. The seller felt Webb was seeking to circumvent Carlson as a broker, in hopes of dealing with them directly.
“Luckily, the seller had enough ethics to turn it right back to me,” Carlson said. “But I didn’t heed that warning.”
On Aug. 19, 2010, Carlson brokered the sale of a Matthews motor yacht named Seatex to Webb for $94,000. After having about $12,000 of work done by shipwright Richard Day, Webb wrote Day a bad check and left port. Neither Day nor the shipyard where Webb had kept the boat ever received payment for their services.
“The Port of Port Townsend even got took by this guy, that’s how good he is,” Carlson said. “They let him launch the boat and then they never got paid.”
After slipping out of Port Townsend, Webb’s mortgage payments to Don Baker, the owner of Seatex, stopped. Webb had made three payments on the boat before he stopped communicating with Baker.
It appeared that Webb had absconded with a boat he couldn’t afford. Seatex was seized several months later by U.S. marshals in Juneau, Alaska. Baker got his boat back, but not in the condition in which he sold it to Webb.
“I was heartbroken when I saw it,” Baker said.
The boat’s interior had been gutted. The generator, electronics and other accessories had been removed. And Webb was again nowhere to be found. All told, more than $40,000 worth of equipment had gone missing while Webb was at the helm of Seatex.
Court documents corroborate Baker’s story. When Webb filed for bankruptcy again in 2015, Baker and Carlson provided testimony to the court, relaying their past dealings with Webb.
The court determined Webb’s debt to Baker to be non-dischargeable and that the penalty had also been accruing interest. In 2016, the total amount owed to Baker was $270,124.20, and continues to gain interest.
Kitsap News Group obtained Webb’s current contact information after discovering his name listed as an agent of Williams Industrial and Marine, a construction company in Westville, FL.
In a phone interview, Webb admitted that he declared bankruptcy in 2015 but contested that he never heard the testimony from Baker and Carlson, alleging he had never met them. Webb also claimed to have no knowledge of the parties’ accusations, adding that he had never been to Alaska, and had never owned Seatex.
Webb did admit, however, that he was responsible for abandoning the John N. Cobb at the Port of Port Townsend, which ultimately cost the port more than $100,000. Webb also admitted that he is the registered owner of Victory, the 94-foot derelict tug abandoned in Liberty Bay with “Jesse” painted on the stern.
Webb said that he had plans to venture back to Liberty Bay before March 1 to move his boat up to a marina in Bellingham. But documents obtained through a public records request suggest that if history is any indicator, Webb might not be moving his boat anytime soon.
In an August 2017 message to Solenne Walker-Westcott, the state Department of Natural Resources’ aquatic land manager, Webb said he would have his boat moved by September that year. In December, Webb again promised to move his boat, but at the time of this article’s publication, Webb’s boat was still floating on Liberty Bay, collecting rust and showing no signs of leaving.
– Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com.