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Sunken Boat Raised in Search of Hazards
Coast Guard briefly boosts boat
November 21, 2018

B
oats in trees. In the reeds. Hurricane Florence left more than one boat on top of a dock. At Oriental Harbor Marina they had already dealt with one misplaced boat: a Morgan Out Island 41 called Rabid Rabbit left resting on top of the dock. They had a second boat to contend with and on the same dock as Rabid Rabbit. This one sank in her rented slip.

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A sunken boat at A Dock, as left by Hurricane Florence.

Oriental Harbor Marina Dockmaster Mark Crowder contacted the owner of the sunk boat, Jeff Mitchell of Fayetteville. (Crowder was unsure of the boat’s name and spelling, believing it to be “Unole.” TownDock.net was unable to verify.) Mitchell reported he’d sustained damage to his home; the boat was not his first priority.

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A notice from the Coast Guard.
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The likely culprit in the sinking.

The coast guard left a red notice about the potential environmental hazards from the sinking. Out of the water, batteries, gasoline tanks, and fire extinguishers carried on watercraft pose little threat to the immediate environment; in the water it’s a different story. There the items will corrode and leak into surrounding waters if left overly long.

At October’s end, the Coast Guard tapped Resolve Marine, an organization specializing in marine environmental remediation, to raise Mitchell’s boat. Crowder says he was not told of the plan and the Coast Guard never approached him about his efforts to reach and deal with Mitchell directly. When he saw the Coast Guard on the dock surveying the vessel, Crowder says he went out to meet them and was then told about lifting the boat.

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Resolve Marine were called in to help.
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A diver needs a crew to help him dress and go about his job.

Crowder was surprised. He had originally called the Coast Guard for spilled oil in the retention pond, a matter he says they never resolved or addressed before or after dealing with the sunken boat. Crowder finally called Oriental Harbor Waterfronts Committee Chairwoman Lisa Thompson who brought absorbency pads and booms for the pond.

When Resolve Marine brought a barge into the marina to lift the boat, Crowder, the Coast Guard, a Wildlife officer, and a few locals were there to watch. The remediation crew outfitted a diver in an orange suit and yellow diving helmet, into the water. Working a sling under and around the vessel’s bow, the diver attached it to a crane on the barge. It took a while, but the diver and a few Resolve Marine crew members were able to partially lift the boat’s gas tank above the water line.

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Lifting the boat to get access to the fuel tank. A hole in the rail is discovered. It was not determined to be the cause of the sinking, but it didn’t help.
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A crew member of Marine Resolve boards the vessel after it has been raised.

Crew pumped out the gas while the diver went looking for batteries and other hazards below decks. Gasoline was spilled into the harbor during the procedure and absorbent booms were deployed.

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Securing the mast to the pilings helps keep the boat from rolling in the slip.
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The Coast Guard and a wildlife officer watch the diver.
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Searching for the fuel tank.

After the hazards were recovered, the crew set the boat back in the water, tying off her mast to the dock pilings. When asked why they didn’t raise and patch her, the reply was that the only obligation was to remove hazards as dictated by the Coast Guard’s mission, not repair the boat.

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Workers remove the diesel and look for further hazards.
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The diver searches for batteries in the cockpit and, once found, removes them.
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Hazards removed, the crane releases the boat back into the water.

Crowder continues to work with Mitchell to have the boat removed. Still sunk in her slip, the vessel lists to one side. The neighboring boat won’t return to their slip until Mitchell’s boat is repaired or removed, fearing she’ll one day snap her lines and roll over.

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After removal of gasoline in the tanks, a small spill spreads around the boat.
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The boat, ringed by absorbent booms. The diver searches below decks for any remaining hazards while the crew looks on.

Mitchell has told Crowder he’s secured the funds to have it towed to Deaton’s. For now, Crowder is giving him time, but adds if it’s not moved by the end of the month, he’ll have it towed and billed to Mitchell.

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The diver, job complete, gets help removing his equipment.

Oriental Harbor Marina isn’t the only marina with a half sunk-boat and less than attentive boat owner. Billy Creech is dealing with one at Ray’s Creekside Marina. And while Crowder was able to get a towboat and the owner’s cooperation, Billy may have to resort to a barge. Or a chainsaw.

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Rolling on the River. Half-sunk, half-impaled at Ray’s Creekside Marina, she is still waiting to be removed.
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Posted Wednesday November 21, 2018 by Allison DeWeese


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