April 7, 2009

Finding Seashells Is So Yesterday, Now You Can Hunt for Discarded Boats

The other day in the Star News, they had an article about a new phenomenon that is taking place in many coastal communities. Boat owners, who are feeling the economic pinch of boat ownership, are abandoning their vessels in record numbers and just walking away leaving a serious problem for others to remedy.

As the nation sees unemployment rates nudging double digits, the used boat market is being flooded with inventory just as sales are drying up. With the sales option removed for owners, some are taking the extreme measure of removing all identifying markings and scuttling their vessels, setting them adrift or running them aground in remote areas. The consequences of these actions are high as the discarded boats create navigational and environmental hazards.

Because of the growing problem, states are enacting laws to help stem this new trend. This past January, South Carolina law makers made it unlawful to abandon a boat in a public waterway. Violators can be fined $5,000 and jailed for 30 days.

Shortly after reading the
Star News article, I came across a WCBD News 2 article from Charleston, SC dealing with the same subject. It was becoming apparent to me that this was a widespread issue impacting many coastal communities. (Check out both articles for a more in depth discussion of the issues)

And then it dawned on me, this past January while spending some time at Carolina Beach's Freeman Park, I noticed that across the inlet, a fairly large sailboat was aground on the southern tip of Masonboro Island. As I snapped a few photos I wondered to myself what had happened to it. Did it start taking on water and the Captain ran it aground? Was he an overzealous beach-goer who came ashore a bit too fast? Had is broke free of its moorings and came to rest here? I had no answer but I assumed that the boat would be gone in short order. Surely, the owner would come for his/her boat. I didn't give it another thought.

Fast forward to this month. My curiosity was piqued after reading the Charleston article. Was the sailboat I saw in January an abandoned vessel? Was it still there?

This past weekend I went back to the northern point of Freeman Park to check. Sure enough, the sailboat is still on the beach. Upon closer look, it is obvious that the weather and elements are starting to take hold. The boat is now resting on its side and the mast is no longer visible. (FYI, you can see Wrightsville Beach off in the distance).

What will eventually happen with the sailboat? Your guess is as good as mine.

Anyone want a boat?

Photo Credit: Ship aground

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