Coastwise

The fishing vessel Coastwise has been rusting away for some time at the Port of Astoria’s East Mooring Basin.

A boat owner being sued by the Port of Astoria for abandoning his vessel shot back recently, arguing the agency jacked up his moorage at the East Mooring Basin while conditions at the marina worsened.

The Port sued Nick Mathias, a California resident and owner of the Coastwise, claiming he fell behind on moorage before sending a letter in September notifying the agency he would be abandoning the vessel.

Mathias claims the Port in 2014 was charging him $2,000 annually for moorage fees, raising it to $3,000 the next year, $9,600 the third year and finally $37,000.

The Port has closed all access to the East Mooring Basin causeway because of a rotting substructure, leaving a dwindling group of boat owners to reach their vessels by skiff.

“My contract with them provided access and a reasonable rate to house my boat there so that I could make my repairs, but since they knew I couldn’t move the boat they knew I had no choice but to keep paying,” Mathias wrote in his response to the Port’s lawsuit. “There was no way I could continue to pay this amount so I had no choice but to abandon the boat along with all of the money I had spent fixing it up.”

The Port seeks more than $112,000 from Mathias in back-due moorage and abandonment fees.

Mathias wrote that he has people ready to take the boat away, eliminating the need for the Port to deal with the abandoned vessel.

Edward Stratton is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 971-704-1719 or estratton@dailyastorian.com.

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