Owners left adrift after pre-owned yacht lost power

Judge says they can recover only $12.6k of their claim of over $237k

Soon after taking over a $240,000 pre-owned yacht, the owners took it out to sea. They had barely sailed for 15 minutes when the engines lost power, leaving them adrift along the west coast of Singapore.

The owners, entrepreneur Nicklaus D'Cruz and his friend Nicholas Lee Yong Heng, confronted the company that brokered the deal, Lotus International Luxury Yachts. They wanted former owner Alexander Migunov to reimburse them for the repairs.

Even after the work was done, the yacht - named St Elena - broke down again. It has been out of service since June 2015.

Mr D'Cruz and Mr Lee sued Mr Migunov and Lotus for more than $237,000. A judge ruled that they can recover $12,640 from Mr Migunov. Their claim against Lotus, which did not earn any commission from the deal, was dismissed.

In her judgment published yesterday, District Judge Lorraine Ho noted that the name Elena meant "shining light" but, unfortunately, the yacht "failed to provide the same brightness and hope" to its new owners, who had intended to rename it Nick 2.

In her judgment published yesterday, District Judge Lorraine Ho noted that the name Elena meant "shining light" but unfortunately the yacht "failed to provide the same brightness and hope" to its new owners, who had intended to rename it Nick 2.

In April 2014, Lotus had advertised the yacht - a 38-foot-long Cruisers 380 Express built in 2010 - for sale at $333,000, less than half its original price of $710,000.

Mr D'Cruz negotiated the price to $300,000. In May, he made two attempts to arrange the sale of the yacht to friends but the deals fell through. In August, he agreed to buy the yacht for $240,000.

On Sept 25, 2014, he and Mr Lee took delivery of the yacht.

Mr Migunov's captain took them out for an uneventful sea-run.

But the cooling pipe to the engine burst when the plaintiffs took the yacht out with their skipper shortly after on the same day. They later learnt that repair works had been done in June 2014 due to complaints by the former owner.

In their suit, the pair - represented by Mr Eugene Thuraisingam and Mr Suang Wijaya - wanted the defendants to pay about $110,000 in repair and dry docking costs.

They also claimed $100,000 for the loss of use, enjoyment and amenity of the yacht.

Judge Ho agreed with them that Mr Migunov, represented by Mr Jeevan John, had handed over a yacht that was "not of satisfactory quality or fit for its purpose".

However, she said they failed to prove they had been induced into buying the yacht by misrepresentations made by Lotus, which was represented by Mr Anthony Soh.

She noted that before the sale, Mr D'Cruz had asked for a formal survey of the yacht, which was never carried out. She said he probably thought he had bought the yacht at a bargain and was prepared to close the deal without a survey but his request showed he was not merely relying on the representations made by Lotus.

The judge said the plaintiffs have managed to prove only $9,178.46 for repair costs as a result of the Sept 25 incident. She awarded $462.24 for berth charges and $3,000 for miscellaneous items such as towing charges.

She dismissed the $100,000 claim, saying the plaintiffs did not provide proof that electrical items on the yacht were damaged as a result of the burst pipe.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 29, 2017, with the headline 'Owners left adrift after pre-owned yacht lost power'. Print Edition | Subscribe