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Derelict vessels get the big tow

Mike Rose of the Bainbridge Harbor Commission helps secure a derelict vessel on Eagle Harbor during impound by the police Friday morning. The vessel was moved to a secure moorage to await disposal.  - DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo
Mike Rose of the Bainbridge Harbor Commission helps secure a derelict vessel on Eagle Harbor during impound by the police Friday morning. The vessel was moved to a secure moorage to await disposal.
— image credit: DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo

The city impounds several boats, after owners fail to move them as directed.

Replete with chipped paint and rotting, mossy wood, they bob lazily in the currents of Eagle Harbor like floating tombstones.

Here lay the remnants of dozens of once-useful vessels, now in various states of disrepair, forgotten or abandoned long ago by captains who refused to go down with their ships.

“It looks like a damn junkyard out here,” said Mike Rose, a member of the Bainbridge Harbor Commission. “People use this place like a free parking lot.”

Eagle Harbor is one of several spots on Bainbridge Island where crippled and crumbling vessels drop anchor to live out their final days on the water illegally before eventually being disposed of at someone else’s expense.

Because anchorage at the well-protected marina is free and legal for a period of 60 days, it has become a virtual cemetery for dying boats.

It is the job of the seven-member, volunteer harbor commission to spot high-risk boats and try to force them away before they become a public problem.

But harbor master Tami Allen says the issue is complicated.

“I honestly don’t know of a fix,” Allen said. “Many different harbors are dealing with a similar problem, but there is no perfect solution because there are so many factors involved.”

One issue is determining how long a boat has been in the harbor, a difficult task because the harbor commission has limited time and resources to keep tabs on incoming vessels.

“It’s not about the people on the boat, it’s about the condition of the vessel itself,” Allen said. “It’s about personal responsibility.”

And because many people live on boats in Eagle Harbor – still legal, although the practice may be reined in to a designated “open water marina” as a new anchoring and mooring plan is adopted – it becomes a challenge to differentiate between viable and derelict vessels.

Once derelict boats are identified, the owners are informed of a violation and given a warning. If they are unable to make the necessary repairs, they are asked to leave.

Owners of impounded vessels have 20 days to appeal.

Otherwise, the boats are towed and usually demolished, unless they’re in good enough shape to go to auction.

“It’s like running an animal shelter,” Allen said. “You want to find them a good home.”

Unfortunately, Allen said, private neglect often leads to public expense because many vessels are unsalvageable and must be cut up and taken to the dump.

Costs for demolition and disposal vary based on the size and location of the boat, but Allen said some estimates have reached $12,000.

The harbor commission this year is operating with a budget of $10,000.

“I have had people ask me to do workshops, but I’m not set up for this. I may do one-on-one workshops,” she said.

Hooks offers giclée reproductions for every original painting she does, limiting them to 35 per painting. These prints are computerized and digitally enhanced images printed on canvas.

The quality is incredible, she said, and it affords clients the opportunity to get the painting they want for less money than the original.

“I have been doing this for three years and the quality has gone from night to day,” said Hooks.

Now that her gallery is open, Hooks is ready to have people come in and get “a feeling of artwork at home.” She’ll be back at her easel on Monday, sorting through her many memories.

Never one without a plan, Hooks has an idea for a future project.

“My goal is to paint Bainbridge Island,” she said.

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