FYI: March 2004 Page 2

FYI — March 2004
By Brad Dunn
 More of this Feature
• Part 1: Crossed Connections, Things We Like, and more
• Part 2: A Word With.., and more

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• News/FYI Index

A Word With...Michael Moore
Maritime attorney par excellence and capital partner at Holland & Knight law firm, Michael Moore, is a Florida native who has been at the center of some of the most interesting maritime lawsuits of the last three decades. His first job after law school was with the New York firm that represented the bygone White Star line, which handled suits surrounding the sinking of the Titanic, among other remarkable cases. PMY recently caught up with Moore to discuss the legal perspective of all matters maritime.

Q: What drew you to maritime law?
A: This legal specialty, which goes back to the time of the Phoenicians, always seemed very romantic to me. It’s the law of the sea, commerce among nations, and seafaring people all rolled into one specialty. Everyday I think how fortunate I am to practice in this area of the law.

Q: Are your clients typically boaters, builders, or other companies?
A: All of the above, and they range from supertankers to superyachts. I work mostly with owners to address their conflicts and relationships with insurance companies, manufacturers, and intrusive governmental agencies.

What’s so enjoyable to me about this profession are the people. Boaters are just different. They’re free spirits, and I believe as a rule they enjoy life more. There’s a common thread that runs between them. You can hear it in Jimmy Buffett’s songs.

Q: What kind of legal problems do these “free spirits” generally encounter?
A: Typically, the owner suffers some kind of loss, sometimes their entire boat, and for some reason their insurance company won’t pay—collisions, sinkings, groundings, fires, you name it. There are a lot of esoteric rules unique to maritime law. Then there are issues with builders and yards. The most challenging are the ones where a boater is up against a manufacturer who was building the boat of their dreams, and for whatever reason the dream becomes a nightmare.

Q: I understand you often work with celebrities.
A: I have worked with a lot of famous, and some infamous people. It’s interesting to see how these people live imprisoned by their own celebrity. And there so many remarkable, phenomenal people out there who are not celebrities, but who are fortunate enough to own a boat of whatever size and class which is, as they say, the ultimate toy. These are the people I enjoy working with the most.

Q: What’s your favorite case that you were part of?
A: Somewhat inconsistent with the pleasureboating side of my practice, I enjoyed defending Exxon in an Exxon Valdez case filed in Florida. It was exciting to be defending one of America’s great corporations as it was vilified daily in the press. But every case is a favorite; for me it’s like asking, “do you like your left hand better than your right?”

Cape Blaze
The weather outside was frightful, but this fire was not at all delightful.

Just weeks before Christmas, a blaze ripped through the oldest boatyard in Cape Cod, destroying more than 50 luxury boats.

At presstime, local firefighters and members of the Coast Guard were still determining whether an accident or arson was behind the fire that devastated the historic Crosby Yacht Yard in Osterville, Massachusetts. Though no one was injured, witnesses said the flames shot 50 feet into the air.

The December 11 conflagration spread to the facility’s three large boat-storage sheds, where flames devoured almost all of the fiberglass and wood boats. Because some had been stored with full fuel tanks, explosions boomed sporadically through the night as more than 100 firefighters sought to contain the fire.

Witnesses reported that as Gregory Egan, the owner of the yard, watched the destruction, he lamented the fact that the storage sheds were almost filled to capacity for the winter.

“There’s all types of boats in there,” he said. “Beautiful boats, nice boats. That’s the worst thing about it.”

Got an interesting boating story for this column? Write to FYI, Power & Motoryacht, 260 Madison Ave., 8th Fl., New York, NY 10016. Fax: (917) 256-2282. e-mail: No phone calls please.

Previous page > Crossed Connections, and more > Page 1, 2

This article originally appeared in the February 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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