Edward Dahlgren

Edward Dahlgren

Derelict boat costs add up for Nanaimo Port Authority

NANAIMO – Port authority spends thousands of dollars disposing of derelict craft and other debris.

When four men tied up and abandoned the Kaymac, an old fishing boat, at the Silva Bay Marina on Gabriola Island in June, there was little the marina’s owners could do about removing the craft without assuming liability for it.

Police and the Canadian Coast Guard tried unsuccessfully to track down the Kaymac’s owner, but weeks later a man claimed the boat.

“A guy took the Kaymac about a week ago,” said Neil Culbart, wharfinger. “He just went on board and said he wanted it. We said, ‘You got it,’ I mean, what do we do? We don’t own it.”

The Kaymac is now anchored in Pilot Bay, Culbart said.

Edward Dahlgren, Nanaimo Port Authority harbour master and director of operations, said he’s glad the Kaymac is out of his jurisdiction. He deals with about 12 derelicts in Nanaimo Harbour annually, plus logs, dinghies, floats and other items.

“It’s become a huge problem, particularly on the West Coast because there are more pleasure vessels registered in Vancouver than there are in the rest of Canada combined,” Dahlgren said. “When you have that number of vessels you have people whose economic circumstances change and the boat becomes a liability, so I have several in my harbour at this present time.”

Port authorities work with the Receiver of Wrecks, a Transport Canada officer who acts as custodian of abandoned vessels. When costs to keep a vessel afloat exceed its value and the owner fails to pay the bill the craft is hauled ashore for disposal.

“It’s private property,” Dahlgren said. “You can’t just arbitrarily take somebody’s property. You have to exhaust every opportunity for them to recover it. Unfortunately the longer the process takes the more the vessel deteriorates.”

The Receiver of Wrecks office pays a small fee to offset recovery costs, but once the port authority takes a boat it’s stuck with the disposal bill.

Modern boats are built of fibreglass and plastics with expensive environmental disposal standards.

Dahlgren is currently getting disposal quotes for the Valkyrian II, a large ferro-concrete hull sailboat that sank near Protection Island in October. He also has four smaller derelicts to get rid of. After cutting out fuel tanks and salvaging any precious metals to offset some costs, they will be broken up, binned and trucked to a landfill.

“Your standard 20-foot boat’s going to cost you around $6,000 to process,” Dahlgren said. “You do 10 of those a year and that’s a big chunk of money that should be going to build more walkways or things that the port does and that comes off the top,” Dahlgren said.