"Junk boats take wing, fly to dump"
June 9, 2008 · Updated 2:53 PM
"Waterfront Park lost two of its most timeworn landmarks Monday, and nobody is complaining.Dozens of spectators passed by the park's edge throughout the afternoon and gawked as a 140-foot floating crane drifted within feet of the shoreline, eventually hoisting two derelict, algae- and barnacle-covered boats high into the air and onto a barge.The clean-up project, which required nine men and about three hours to complete, apparently comes as a relief to many residents, who have endured the beached blights at Eagle Harbor's edge for months.It's about time they got rid of those old wrecks, said a spectator who identified himself only as Canoe Bob, who used to paddle around the harbor frequently and visited the park Monday.Use of the crane was donated by Dave Berry, owner of the Bainbridge-based marine construction company Caicos. Puget Sound Tugboats chipped in complementary services as well, pushing the crane across the sound from Seattle. But ditching the boats doesn't come cheap, said Berry, who also serves on the island's recently formed Harbor Commission. The majority of the project's estimated $10,000 dollar price tag comes from disposal fees - demolishing the vessels and paying to dump them in a landfill.It used to be easier, Berry said, and most people who owned floating wrecks simply pounded a hole in the hull and sank them in the sound. But scuttled boats can leach harmful substances like petroleum and battery acid, and, like landfills, the ocean isn't bottomless.What used to be acceptable is now undergoing scrutiny, said Berry, and environmental impacts can no longer be neglected.Which is why, as the crane hoisted one decaying vessel and then another onto the barge, a boat manned with workers from the environmental remediation division of the Foss Maritime tugboat firm, stood by. The crew was poised to deploy a containment boom should the boats disintegrate and spill oil into the water.But even the older of the two vessels held together, prompting Berry to remark, Boats are amazing. They are kind of like old barns - they will stay together when you think they are long past dead.Bainbridge still houses abandoned boats for which the prospects of rebirth seem unlikely - eight, by Berry's estimates - in addition to the five that have been disposed of recently. Berry said he believes the island has become a magnet for derelict vessels, as other Puget Sound communities have begun to enforce their anti-dumping regulations more strictly. The island's plague of abandoned boats will subside, he said, once the city hires a harbor master to manage maritime traffic.Monday's removal project was the commission's first official action, and the agency may seek to fund similar projects though a tax on boat licenses, Berry said."