(WSVN) - Most people would love to have a 42-foot yacht docked behind their house. But not when it belongs to a neighbor, especially when the boat is run down and the owner won’t move it. It’s why one South Florida woman called Help Me Howard.

It was a time in their lives they would never forget.

Anneli Liebig: “Sold everything and took off for a year and a half.”

Gordie and Anneli got on their sail boat and started cruising, loving every minute of it.

Anneli Liebig: “We used to live on a 45-foot sailboat, that was his dream when I met him, to cruise the islands.”

This was the boat they loved. Now, this is the boat Anneli loathes.

Anneli Liebig: “It’s disrespectful. Disrespectful to me and my family.”

Back in 2021, they let a neighbor who sold his house, dock this 42 power yacht in their backyard.

Anneli Liebig: “And it was going to be for a couple of months. He promised he would have it out of here for the hurricane season 2021.”

Then, tragedy, Gordie got cancer and died four months later.

After getting her life back in order, Anneli turned her attention to the eyesore that was still docked in their backyard.

Anneli Liebig: “It’s mildew on it, it’s green, it’s dilapidated. I would beg him to come and clean the boat, you know.”

Anneli says she also kept asking the owner, Mike McFarland, to get the boat off her dock.

Anneli Liebig: “And promise me again that he would leave, um, before the hurricane season 2022.”

He didn’t.

The boat didn’t run when the owner tied it to their dock and seawall. It still doesn’t run, just looks rundown.

Anneli Liebig: “Somebody who has the passion for it and wants to fix it up could definitely make a, make a nice, nice profit if they took the time and cleaned it up, and the engine’s got to start. You’ve got to fix up the engines.”

It’s not just aggravating. Anneli fears it’s damaging her dock and seawall.

Anneli Liebig: “The dock and the sea wall really needs a repair. And because the boat is so big, I can’t get a diver to get to see where is the issues with the sea wall and the dock to fix it.”

In November, she asked McFarland to give her the title, so she could give the boat away.

He said no.

And so she told him enough is enough.

Anneli Liebig: “And I said to him, ‘Listen, it’s, we really have no need to talk to each other anymore. You need to move that boat out of here. ‘I will move it in two weeks. I have it out of here before Christmas.’ And this and the saga has been going on.”

Going on and on, leaving Anneli feeling sunk.

Anneli Liebig: “And they told me its a civil case. You need to get a lawyer and being a widow, I don’t have that money, right? So I called Help Me Howard.”

Well, Howard, Anneli and her late husband were nice enough to help a neighbor, so does Anneli have the right to move the boat?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “This involves maritime law, and it can get very complicated. If the boat is derelict, she can give the owner 60 days to remove, and if he doesn’t, she can have it removed. But you have to be careful. If the current owner can prove its not derelict, he can sue Anneli. She doesn’t have the money for a lawyer, but she needs a maritime attorney to ask a judge to grant permission to remove the boat.”

I called Mike McFarland several times. Texted him. He never responded.

We also contacted Fort Lauderdale Code Enforcement. They can fine the boat owner, tow the vessel and bill the owner for its removal. Anneli has filed that complaint.

And she did send McFarland this letter, giving him until March 7 to remove the boat or…

Anneli Liebig: “If he’s not moving it, I hope that he gives up the title so we can move it.”

Anneli never expected that McFarland, a friend of her late husband would do this to his widow after Gordie passed away.

Anneli Liebig: “No, I didn’t. I didn’t. Yeah, my husband trusted him. And being a friend of the family and neighbor, that he would move it.”

Anneli is doing everything we could think of to get that boat off her dock, and she is hoping a maritime attorney steps forward in case the boat owner fights the removal.

We will let you know what happens.

A problem left you with a sinking feeling? Need a life raft? Dock it with us and see if we can sail in with a solution.

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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