Planing the surface of the water, its mast proudly raised, a sailboat can appear majestic.
Towed alongside a utility boat, lying on its side and covered in mud, a derelict sailboat looks sad.
“All of these boats that someone once loved and they all have a story, and look how they ended up,” said Denise Radovich, Grants Administration Coordinator for the City of St. Augustine.
Each year, with funding from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other agencies, the city removes what it calls “abandoned” vessels. The process involves rounding up boats found caught in brush, stranded near shores or submerged in low water.
Boats become obstacles, horrors and are also considered a danger to the environment since materials can seep into the ecosystem or even destroy oyster beds, according to Radovich.
While city authorities clear abandoned vessels year round, the actual removal only takes place a few times a year – after the vessels have been traced to see if any owners can be identified, and removal has been prioritized in depending on their structural condition.
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There are a number of reasons why pleasure craft are abandoned: They’ve gotten in distress, been untied by a storm, or have been involved in something more nefarious. Some are left in the weather for months; others for years.
The most recent withdrawal took place this week, with one yacht and four sailboats removed from the Intracoastal Waterway.
The city hires a contractor – in this case, Melbourne-based TSI Disaster Recovery – to oversee the process. Sometimes scuba divers are used to help clear particularly affected vessels.
“This has been listed and disclosed,” Stephen Lee, one of the contractors, told Corey Sakryd, the city’s deputy general services manager, as he and another worker made their way down the boat launch. St. Johns County Lighthouse water, near the Salt Run section. of the Intracoastal Wednesday afternoon.
Previously, the salvage team had prepared the boat for towing by first removing some of the mud in and around it, then pumping out the excess water. After strapping it to a sturdy utility boat, the contractors used the high tide to their advantage to float the ship more easily on the waterway where it was pulled up a ramp by a Bobcat.
Sakryd, who previously served as Radovich, still helps oversee the abandoned boat program.
“Each of them [vessels] is different; he has his own challenges, ”said Sakryd. “Lift it, dig it, tow it, climb it up the ramp or tear it down. “
Yes, demolish – as in, completely crush – it.
“It doesn’t take long,” Sakryd said. “They [contractors] Usually will take a backhoe and it just folds up. “
The city then disposes of the remains in a refuge.
This week’s work cost $ 105,000, all provided through grants. But once the process is complete, city officials return its records to the FWC who will not only officially revoke the registration of every vessel taken out of service, but will also attempt to obtain restitution from negligent owners.
Regarding the removal of abandoned vessels from local waterways, Radovich said: “I think a lot of people, a lot of boaters, are thankful.”