Sunken boat disaster proves profitable for Port of Coupeville
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
June 19, 2012 · Updated 2:28 PM
The sinking of a crab boat in Penn Cove turned into an unexpected windfall for the Port of Coupeville.
The Deep Sea, a 128-foot crab boat, sank in mid-May near the shellfish farm in Penn Cove.
While its sinking closed the cove to shellfish harvesting and raised concerns of environmental damage due to the thousands of gallons of fuel the vessel contained, the publicly owned port saw an increase in gas sales and moorage fees during the cleanup and removal of the Deep Sea.
Jim Patton, executive director for the Port of Coupeville, said the port, which operates the Coupeville Wharf, sold more than 2,000 gallons of gas in May, which gave the port a profit of more than $1,000.
The port sells fuel from the wharf and makes a 50 cent per gallon profit on its sales. In 2011, the Port earned a $292 profit from fuel sales and in 2010, earned a $514 profit from fuel sales.
The money earned from fuel sales helps pay for staff at the wharf and maintenance of the facilities. The boats from Penn Cove Shellfish are the port’s most consistent customer when it comes to fuel sales.
Patton shared the news during Wednesday’s meeting of the commissioners for the Port of Coupeville.
Patton said the increase in fuel sales came from Coast Guard and state vessels that spent days in Penn Cove trying to remove the vessel and clean up the area.
The Port of Coupeville also enjoyed a spike in moorage fees for May. Patton said $3,115 was collected during the month. That amount is a dramatic increase over the previous two years. In May 2011, the port collected $844 and in May 2010, the port collected $425 in moorage fees.
Patton said the port saw an influx of pleasure craft owned by people who visited Penn Cove to witness the action surrounding the Deep Sea’s sinking and eventual removal. It was towed to Seattle for sale as scrap metal.
The extra fuel sales and moorage fees come after port commissioners reduced staff hours and made other cutbacks to ensure there was enough money available to operate until tax disbursements took place in the spring.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at email@example.com or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.