Holly Hill buys houseboat for $7,000; Former owner sues city

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HOLLY HILL, Fla. —

A houseboat that was seized by the Sheriff's Office after it washed ashore last October was sold at an auction on Monday.

Bidders came with cash, but they weren't offering much for Robert McGary's 52-foot houseboat.

"That's my home. These people are closing on my home, making me homeless," said McGary.

WFTV's Mark Joyella found out the highest bidder was the city of Holly Hill.

McGary's home on the Halifax River ran aground in a storm last October, starting a saga that saw McGary accused of threatening police officers who tried to board the boat.

The city paid thousands to remove the boat from a sandbar.

The boat finally sold for $7,000.

"We have $20,000 of taxpayers' money in it, so I wanted to make sure we got close to that out of it. The bids were going $200 and $300. That boat's worth more than that scrap," said Holly Hill Police Chief Mark Barker.

After months out of water, the houseboat's seen better days. The engines will need to be rebuilt or replaced. There are cosmetic problems and every valve and line will have to be checked to see if the houseboat is seaworthy.

If it can be fixed, or simply sold as scrap, the city hopes to get far more at a second auction once the boat's been checked out.

The houseboat's former owner still hopes to recover his home. He's suing the city and the chief of police.

He said the city had no right to remove his boat or to auction it off.