EVERETT — In April 2018, a rundown World War II-era commercial fishing boat called the Hannah Marie sank in Steamboat Slough. A few weeks later, its owner towed it into the Snohomish River to renovate it for a return trip to Alaska. Since then, the boat hasn’t moved.
Last week, the Department of Natural Resources’ derelict vessels removal program gave the boat’s owner a 30-day notice to move it. If he doesn’t get it out of the river by Aug. 14, the state will take custody of the 100-footer and have it removed. In the event he is able to tow the Hannah Marie elsewhere, he’ll keep it.
“I don’t see that happening,” Jerry Farmer of the DNR said. “(The owner) has been responsive, but nothing is moving forward.”
If the boat is seized, the owner could take the issue to court for appeal. But the DNR could still remove and store the vessel while the case is under review. If given custody, Farmer said, the program could have the Hannah Marie out of the water by the end of August.
There are two ways that could happen. A contractor could patch leaks in the boat, re-float and tow it out of the river. But, if the vessel is beyond repair, a crane may be required to lift it onto a barge — a more costly method.
“Hopefully it doesn’t come to that,” Farmer said.
Cost is what’s halted the project.
The DNR program’s budget is biennial. From June 2017 to June 2019, the program spent an estimated $2 million. On July 1, the 2019-2021 cycle started, freeing enough money to tackle the removal.
Otherwise, DNR land manager Ben Cooksey said “a large vessel like that would deplete our funds.”
Richard Cook, the boat’s owner, could not be reached for comment.
A year ago, he said he hoped to restore the Hannah Marie, formerly known as the Midas, to its former glory for his father. Donald Cook owned a Ballard business that sold equipment for commercial fishing boats, but never owned one himself.
In its heyday, the Midas made trips to ports in Alaska and Washington, selling fish bought off other boats at sea. The vessel sold in 1987 for more than $4 million. But, wrecks and fires have left it in dire condition.
Now, the state says the Hannah Marie is a threat to the environment and whoever goes near it. But it isn’t the only problem in the area.
On July 20, an abandoned houseboat in the Snohomish River near the Langus Park boat ramp became the seventh vessel to be taken out of the area since 2015.
Snohomish County Surface Water Management has its own derelict boat removal program. It notified the DNR of the deteriorating houseboat July 2.
The removal required a crane and multiple dumpsters. The estimated bill was $25,000.
The county’s work added up to $5,000 for the project, which was funded by the Snohomish Marine Resources Committee, a citizen group dedicated to protecting local waters.
Cooksey from the DNR said the owner, who isn’t returning calls, is “a person of interest for cost recovery.” The Everett Police Department is helping with that process.
Currently, there are two other boats in the slough being monitored by the DNR.
Both are priority fives, meaning they’re either abandoned or sunk, but are no threat to people or the environment.
Statewide, the agency is monitoring more than 150 boats.
“There’s (derelict vessels) out there everywhere,” Farmer, from the state program, said. “This is their property. They just need to take responsibility for it.”
Derelict vessels can be reported online at the DNR’s website.