Hayden Cook, Fisheries Intern
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Posted on July 24, 2012 | Permalink
Abandoned Boat Removal
Location: Riviera Beach
On July 18 I drove out to Riviera Beach, MD to meet up with Angela Crenshaw to watch an abandoned houseboat be removed from the water. The boat had been there since January. Angela works in the Boating Services unit of the DNR and is responsible for handling the removal of abandoned boats from Marylandís waterways.
Abandoned boats and debris need to be removed because they become a hazard to navigation and the environment. The program is funded by the Waterway Improvement Fund, which comes from the five percent tax paid to the State when a boat is purchased and titled in Maryland. The process to report an abandoned vessels is as follows: Contact the Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) at 410-260-8888. An NRP officer will follow up and contact you and if deemed appropriate, an investigation will be conducted and the officer will provide additional guidance. For more information about the Abandoned Boat and Debris Program you can visit Abandoned Boats Site
I met Angela around 9:30, but the contractor started removing the boat around 7:30. Contractors send bids of the amount of money they want to be paid to remove the boat, then after all bids are sent in the qualified low bidder is selected and that contractor is given the job. It was a three man team to remove this houseboat which was partially sunken and had debris all over the boat (chairs, bathtub, clothes, etc.). This boat had been through a lot since January, it was not going to be an easy task to remove it. Before I arrived Angela told me that they searched the whole boat for holes to plug so to not let anymore water come in. They did this because generators were used to suck the water out of the boat to help it float. Water has to be taken out at faster rate then water going in the boat for it to have a chance to float. Once most the water was extracted from the boat, the crew had to work on how to free the boat from the mud. The boat sank at a weird angle, which pushed the far back side of the boat to sink into the mud. This made things difficult because even if all the water is taken out, the boat wonít float or move when itís stuck in the mud. One of the guys was swimming around going under the water doing something with the boat in the mud. If pumping the water from the boat didnít work, they could of used a technique where a type of bag or float is tied and somewhat put under or on the side of the boat, then they are filled with air, which in theory should help lift the boat up. That could have been done, but from what we saw once all of the water was extracted from the main walk-in cabin it began to rise slowly until it was completely floating. From there they were to take the boat to a marina down the waterway to get picked up and taken to a junkyard. This only took them about 5 hours, which from what I have heard is a quick removal, sometimes it can take days, it just depends on the conditions.
It never really occurred to me how abandoned boats are removed until that day, itís a different process for every boat, some need cranes, others like the houseboat need skill and knowledge. It was a good day and I advise if you see a boat being removed to stay and watch for a little while at a safe distance and do not disturb the contractors.