It's not a case of finders keepers if you come across an abandoned boat on public land or waters in the Sunshine State. Under Florida law, you must first obtain title to the boat -- otherwise, you've stolen it. Taking an abandoned vessel without going through the proper procedures could mean that you face fines or even the possibility of jail time.
Reporting an Abandoned Boat
Start out by contacting the local police department about the abandoned boat that you're interested in. Under Florida statute 705.103, a law enforcement officer must post a notice on the abandoned boat stating that the vessel must be removed within five days, with the owner responsible for all costs relating to the notice, removal and storage. The official should also make an effort to identify the owner, and if possible, mail a copy of the notice to that individual.
Claiming an Abandoned Boat
If you are interested in the abandoned vessel and the owner does not come forth to claim it within 90 days, law enforcement can transfer it to you for a fee. You must first submit a "found property claim." You'll also have to pay the related costs, such as removal and storage. You can then apply to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to have the boat title transferred into your name. If the boat isn't salvageable, don't think about removing any part of it without obtaining legal title -- that could be considered theft.