Abandoned boat will soon be floated away from Coupeville

Port willing to give boat away

An abandoned boat that floated around Coupeville and was the site of alleged child abuse will soon be gone from the water, Port of Coupeville commissioners learned last week.

In fact, Port Executive Director Chris Michalopoulos said he’s willing to just give it away. Those interested should call him directly at 360-222-3688.

Michalopoulos said the 45-foot, wooden, KHE Army boat, Platypus, was built in 1945.

“It was originally built for the Australian army to be a floating dentist boat,” he said.

It was converted a couple of times, he added, and someone built out the top. Michalopoulos said the boat still has the original diesel engine. Most of the interior has been ripped out, except for the skeleton of two benches in the cabin and galley cabinets, and a substantial amount of clean-up will be necessary.

The boat was found on a nearby beach after it had broken free of its anchor in a September storm. After it broke free again, it was eventually tied to the Coupeville Wharf’s dock and went into port custody, meaning that the port does not have ownership but does have responsibility for it. The port must pay for towing, haul-out and salvage costs, although the Department of Natural Resources could reimburse the port for up to 90 percent, Michalopoulos said. Funds are subject to availability, he added.

The plan is to tow the boat to La Conner to be hauled out of the water because it is the closest marina with a crane strong enough to lift the boat. There it will sit for a few days until an interested party wants it or until a salvage company can go to work. Two community members have offered to tow the boat, Michalopoulos said.

The boat’s previous owner, David Elm, has until Dec. 27 to try to get it back, but he would have to pay all of the docking and mortgage fees and take it out of the water. Michalopoulos said he doesn’t think that’s going to happen.

“He told me, and I quote, ‘I’m not coming back.’”

Elm had been living on the boat for about two years. He was arrested in July on charges of assault of a child in the third degree and intimidating a witness. His girlfriend, Carlyn Roberts, was charged with tampering with a witness. Her son was taken into protective custody after he said he had been abused.

“In my opinion, this is a tragic story for that young child, but if we could do something positive from it that would be amazing,” Michalopoulos said. “I would really like to see this get into someone’s hands who could restore it.

“It’s a beautiful boat.”