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A sailboat has been grounded on Squalicum Beach. What happens next?

This sailboat has been sitting on a Bellingham beach for two weeks

Port of Bellingham officials impounded a sailboat that has been sitting on Squalicum Beach for at least two weeks. They've been unable to reach the owner but have given notice the boat maybe scrapped or sold.
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Port of Bellingham officials impounded a sailboat that has been sitting on Squalicum Beach for at least two weeks. They've been unable to reach the owner but have given notice the boat maybe scrapped or sold.

The Port of Bellingham will soon move a sailboat that has been grounded on Squalicum Beach for at least two weeks.

The boat is perched and leaning on rocks on tidelands owned by the port, off the end of Roeder Avenue.

"We are not sure if the boat is damaged, but typically boats that end up on the beach are not anchored correctly," said Mike Hogan, Port of Bellingham spokesman.

Hogan said the U.S. Coast Guard and the Washington State Department of Ecology have inspected the boat. Ecology said it isn't an environmental threat, he added.

On Wednesday, beach-goers walked past the worn boat during an afternoon low tide. A jumble of canned food, wires, rusty containers and other detritus could be seen on the vessel.

A man walking his dog, who said he regularly goes to the beach, estimated the boat had been there for about three weeks.

On one side of the boat, someone had painted in white: "Do not take. Owner is coming to remove. Not for fre (sic)."

The port has impounded the boat and sent a notice to the owner but has yet to receive a reply, Hogan said earlier this week.

By law, the port is required to impound the vessel for 30 days and then give the owner another 30 days to challenge that before the port can take over ownership, according to Hogan.

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A boat sits on the shore of Squalicum Beach near Tibury Pier on June 1 in Bellingham. Evan Abell evan.abell@bellinghamherald.com

The port will hire a contractor to move the boat to an impound area that's upland until the 60-day impound process is complete, Hogan added.

It's expected to be moved off the beach within a week.

The agency is still developing estimates for how much the move will cost, but it's usually $5,000 to $15,000 depending on the size of vessel and complexity of the removal.

"If the owner does not claim custody, the boat will be scrapped or sold and the port will attempt to recover the full costs of dealing with the vessel from the owner," Hogan said. "If cost-recovery from the owner proves unsuccessful, the port will seek 90 percent reimbursement through the Department of Natural Resources’ Derelict Vessel Removal Program."

Hogan said the port deals with such situations once or twice a year.

He didn't release the boat owner's name, saying he was checking to find out if he could legally do so.

Kie Relyea: 360-715-2234, @kierelyea
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