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County seeks to claim junk boats at Cornet Bay

Island County is trying to claim and dispose of several old boats before they become a hazard.  - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Island County is trying to claim and dispose of several old boats before they become a hazard.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

To prevent a small fleet of derelict boats from becoming a hazard, Island County is attempting to obtain custody and eventually dispose of them.

The four boats are located at the county-owned dock at Cornet Bay. They have been moored at the dock for at least a year and the moorage fees haven’t been paid for at least six months.

Steve Marx, parks director for Island County, said the boats have to be removed before they break away from the dock, which would make them a navigation hazard, or before they sink, which would make them an environmental hazard.

The county has already claimed custody of a 28-foot boat and has started the legal process of claiming the other three abandoned boats. One of the three remaining boats doesn’t have a name, another is called the Rain Dodger and the third is the Hermit. Marx said none of the boats have current registration or identification numbers. Two of the boats don’t have any propulsion system and the two that do, don’t work.

Marx said one of the boat owners is in jail, two haven’t responded to attempts at contact and one, the owner of the Hermit, is working out a way to remove the boat from the dock and pay the fees.

He added the boat removal is a way to keep the dock, beaches and shores free of junk boats.

The county dock, which is the first dock motorists would see driving east on Cornet Bay Road, is a fairly cheap place for boaters to moor their boats. It costs a boater $350 a year or $10 a day to use the dock. One reason it’s so cheap is that boats are beached during low tides. The parking lot to the county dock looks like a homeowner’s driveway.

The dock is popular with crabbers, but sometimes it has been used as a place to store boats.

Marx said the county has been aggressively trying to collect fees for the dock.

The parks director didn’t know how much it would cost to remove the three boats from the dock. It looks like the county will spend approximately $2,000 to dispose of the one it claimed July 6. The county will get most of that money back, however. The state Department of Natural Resources has a derelict boat program and the county could receive up to 90 percent of the cost involved in disposing of the vessels.

The Port of Coupeville applied to the same program in 2008 to recoup costs associated with disposing the Soul Mate, which is a sail boat that sank near the Coupeville Wharf.

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