DNR cleans local waterways of sunken, derelict, abandoned boats

EVERETT — A double-masted sailboat and a WWII-era tugboat disappeared from local waters in August — and most people probably consider it good riddance.

A state Department of Natural Resources program that works to remove abandoned boats from waterways around the state has focused of late on the Everett area. Contractors will remove seven derelict vessels from local sloughs and riverbanks, if all goes as planned.

“About half of the DNR’s current derelict vessel removals (for the state) are in the Everett area,” said Melissa Ferris, who manages the program.

In addition to the state’s efforts, the Port of Everett was working to remove two derelict boats from Jetty Island.

The recent work follows The Port is in the process of securing custody of two vessels abandoned on the west side of Jetty Island. One is a 26’ ft Stamas cabin cruiser and the other is a 25’ Catalina sailboat. The plan is for Global will retrieve the vessels possibly as early as next week and bring them to the Port of Everett workyard for eventual demolition. the removal of seven other vessels by DNR contractors last year from waterways in and around Everett.

DNR has removed nearly 600 vessels since starting the program in 2003. It’s funded through boat-registration fees and leases on state-owned aquatic lands.

This year’s budget for the removal program approaches $2.5 million. Ferris expects Everett-area removals to cost at least a half million dollars.

The recent DNR work has focused on an old tug and yacht in Steamboat Slough. Crews in late August were able get the approximately 100-foot-long “Tug 702” to float. It was then towed it to Seattle. It’s similar to a large tug called “the Murph” hoisted from Quartermaster Harbor off Vashon Island last year.

The state will be exploring whether to bring criminal charges against the owner, Ferris said.

Crews also were working to remove a 105-foot charter yacht known as Safari Spirit, also in Steamboat Slough. Once used for exclusive small-group excursions from Seattle to Alaska, the ship had fallen into disrepair.

Last year, it turned up tied to an I-5 bridge not far from its current location, Ferris said.

It suffered extensive damage in April 2012 fire while moored in Ballard’s Fisherman’s Terminal, according to a federal accident report.

The same yacht ran aground and sank in British Columbia’s Kisameet Bay in 2003. None of the 16 people on board were injured in that accident.

The DNR also is asking the public for help identifying the owners of two vessels tied to pilings and abandoned north of the Port of Everett, near a line of sunken barges. People can email tips to dvrp@dnr.wa.gov. DNR had removed one of the vessels by the end of August and was preparing to remove the second.

In addition to the state work, the Port of Everett hauled away two vessels abandoned on the west side of Jetty Island, said Lisa Lefeber, a port spokeswoman. One was a 26-foot Stamas cabin cruiser and the other a 25-foot Catalina sailboat.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; nhaglund@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @NWhaglund.

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