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Derelict boats still a problem in Palm Beach County

Posted at 5:16 PM, Jul 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-19 16:50:51-04

You don't have to go far to find a derelict or sunken vessel in Palm Beach County.

Some people say a law that went into effect a year ago is not doing much to get rid of them. They say it’s a start but more must be done to tackle the problem.

Front and center on a public beach at Phil Foster Park a 24-foot sailboat lies on its side. “The boat broke loose and is now up on the beach,” said Gregory Reynolds, the executive director of Lagoon Keepers, an organization dedicated to keeping our waterways clean. “The owners passed away approximately two months ago. It's been anchored out here with no action taken on the vessel.”

Reynolds showed several more. “There has been no identified owner,” he said about a sunken sailboat west of Peanut Island. “We aren't able to remove it until law enforcement completes a derelict case on the vessel.”

A Sea Ray power boat near Palm Beach is another example, “There's more derelict vessels moving in and there's not the law enforcement present or activity to keep up with them,” explained Reynolds.

He says law enforcement loses track of the boats' owners.

“You lose registration on a vessel, you lose contact on with the registered owner, you don't have anybody to turn to,” said Reynolds.

Removing them is an expensive and long process. So far this year, Lagoon Keepers has removed 15 vessels, bringing the total to 275 in the last 12 years.

Reynolds says there are countless more abandoned boats just waiting to become a bigger problem. “What do you do when it breaks loose and it destroys your dock or comes through your glass window during a hurricane?”

Once notified, the owners have 30 days to remove or fix their derelict boat. Fines start at $50 then increase every month after that.