Wednesday, December 29, 2010
An abandoned sailboat that had become something of a tourist attraction was finally removed from Bodega Bay harbor this week.
“Hapi” had been stuck at a tilt in the mudflats since fall 2007, when her owner fell behind in mooring fees at nearby Spud Point Marina and was evicted. The owner tried to move the boat, but the Coast Guard intercepted him and said the boat was not seaworthy. He then anchored it in the channel, and a storm blew it onto the tidelands.
The boat was too badly damaged to save. The keel, which has a ferroconcrete hull, became firmly lodged in the mud; the sail was shredded and flapping in the wind.
Hapi became a great conversation starter and in fact, our local wine bar Gourmet au Bay produced a private wine label in her honor called Tilted Cellars. We enjoyed kayaking around Hapi, people told tales of her being haunted, or a pirate ship.
But while some found the abandoned boat charming, others said it was a hazard that should be removed. A spokesman from Sonoma County said “In reality they blow around, they can be come potential hazards to navigation, they leak toxics into the water, kids go out and play on them, they can get hurt."
This week, according to a press release, Hapi was among five abandoned commercial vessels that state and local agencies removed from the Bodega Bay area. The coordinated effort involved the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office Marine Services Unit, and the Department of Fish and Game.
They said, “Abandoned and derelict vessels along California’s coastal and inland waterways are a threat to public health and safety and the environment. They can harm water quality due to the hazardous pollutants they contain, including oil, PCBs, antifreeze, gasoline, diesel, asbestos, paints, and sewage. As vessels deteriorate, they become sources of debris that wash onto the shore or remain a water hazard. In addition, vessels are typically abandoned on or very near shorelines where they present ‘attractive nuisances’ for additional dumping from the shore.
“The five commercial vessels--the Elizabeth Ann, Ocean Star, Loretta G, Bonnie, and Hapi--were designated for removal because they have no identifiable responsible parties and they pose environmental and navigational hazards to the public. Measures have been taken to prevent a release of hazardous materials during the salvage operations. As a precaution, spill cleanup equipment has been pre-deployed in the event of a release. Fish and Game’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response is overseeing operations to ensure there are no impacts to state waters.
“Funding for this project was provided through CalRecycle’s Solid Waste Disposal and Co-disposal Site Cleanup Program. CalRecycle, which manages the project on-site, contracted with Pacific States Environmental to remove, dismantle, and recycle or dispose of non-hazardous solid waste and hazardous materials from the vessels.”
Surprisingly, no locals seem to have seen or heard a thing during the removal process. Knowing it was controversial, did they quietly haul Hapi out in the black of night? If you saw anything, or took photos or video, please share in the comments section!
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