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Our view: Better sooner than later to get junkers out of marinas

To live in any ocean-dependent community is to become familiar with the phenomenon of unloved, neglected and abandoned watercraft

Published on November 7, 2017 7:26AM

Just as adorable spring lambs unavoidably transmogrify into stupid tick-infested sheep, pretty new watercraft eventually decay into weed-festooned hulks. The Warrenton Marina is in the midst of rounding up its ugly derelicts and getting them out of the water, a labor-intensive but worthwhile chore.

To live in any ocean-dependent community is to become familiar with the phenomenon of unloved, neglected and abandoned watercraft. Once someone’s pride and joy — or at least a valuable tool — recreational and commercial vessels all eventually become worn out and obsolete. They have an air of mystery and are magnets for dreamers and artists. Even seasoned mariners who know the truth — that they are holes in the water into which you throw money — may feel pangs of temptation to restore them to productive life. Often, however, vessels slumbering in local mooring basins are too far gone, too encumbered in liens and toxic paint to be rescued.

Warrenton has joined other local marinas in going through a formal legal process of clearing vessel titles so they can be sold or demolished. Walking the marina’s floats, it was easy to spot once-prized vessels that hadn’t moved out into the estuary or ocean in years. They were taking up potentially valuable moorage space. Like neglected houses in an otherwise gentrifying neighborhood, they harmed the overall impression of an up-and-coming marina.

Most crucially, they threaten to sink — as the abandoned Western Skies did at its slip this summer — leaving taxpayers to soak up expensive cleanups.

Goaded by these costs, marinas have been getting smarter and tougher about requiring current insurance and registration documents before allowing boats to take up a slip. Over the course of a few years, these steps and seizures of previously abandoned vessels will get them out of public facilities.

Oregon and Washington both also have large, unfunded liabilities in the form of sunken watercraft, along with many others left to decay on dry land in blackberry thickets and junkyards. Both legislatures must step up funding for these seeping sores on the environment. All by itself, the partially sunken Antarctic research ship Hero at Bay Center, Washington, will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to extract from its resting place and dismantle. Dealing with junkers before they sink is far cheaper than waiting until after they’re in the drink.

Commendations to Warrenton Marina. The steps it is taking will make it a more appealing and valuable public asset.


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