Derelict Sea Duty

Derelict boats like this half submerged houseboat in the Halifax River just below the International Speedway Bridge in Daytona Beach are finally being removed.

The Daytona Beach Police Department aims to finish overseeing the removal of various derelict marine vessels in the Halifax River thanks to two state grants.

The police department is partnering with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and will receive $107,829 to have the boats removed and hauled away, ideally by the end of September.

The process started in July with eight boats already removed and dismantled. Additional work was delayed because of Hurricane Isaias, but now things are back on track. Some boats needing removal require a barge with a crane. Complications include the identified boats being completely or mostly underwater, some stuck on the bottom of the river and must be removed during high tide, and some must be drained of fuel and oil before they can be moved.

“The boats need to be removed. They are a safety hazard for boaters out there going down the Intracoastal,” Daytona Beach Police Chief Crag Capri said. “They have protruding parts of the boat and people can hit them, especially at night. You’ve got ecological issues as far as leaking oil and rust and all that into the waterways that affects the wildlife, the fish. You just can’t leave them.

“(But) removing them is a whole process; it’s kind of complicated,” Chief Capri said. “You don’t just pull the boat out; there are certain things that need to be done. You have to let professionals do it and it’s not cheap. It’s expensive and we got an opportunity with a grant and we ran with it so we could make our waterways safe.”

Now the police department will work on not letting derelict boats pile up in the river.

“We’re going to step up our enforcement efforts and do whatever we’ve got to do,” he chief said. “We are going to go after the owners of these boats. They’ve been served notices. We are going to go out there to recover the fees by putting liens on their vehicle registrations and looking at criminal charges for some of them.”

Initially 12 boats were identified as derelict. Five more have since been identified and grant funds will be sought for them. Some have already been removed using Sea Tow, the company the city hired to remove them. They include sailboats, sport fishers and cabin cruisers. FWC will reimburse the city once all the vessels have been removed and destroyed as required by the grants.

A new release stated most of the money will go to having Sea Tow move the boats from their current locations to Bethune Point Park where they will be dismantled. None of the vessels are salvageable, according to the DBPD Marine Unit.

The release further stated boat owners were given ample time to become aware their boats were derelict and to resolve the issue, but did not. Other than initially fronting the money for Sea Tow, no city funds will be spent except to cover the labor incurred by DBPD’s Marine Unit in organizing the effort.

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