MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Crews spent Monday removing damaged boats from Treasure Coast waterways. Several broke loose during the height of Sunday's storms in Martin County.
Winds in Jensen Beach gusted up to 70 knots on Sunday, according to the National Weather Service, which is more than docked boats could withstand.
"Yesterday’s storm was worse than expected, I think," said Martin County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit Deputy Michael Joseph.
Joseph said three boats snapped their mooring or broke lose north of the Jensen Beach Causeway.
"We had one break loose in the Manatee Pocket and a couple others in Palm City," Joseph said.
One of those boats has yet to be claimed by the owner, damaging the fishing pier and breaking a railing.
The county will send the owner a letter, tag it as derelict, and then remove it to be scrapped if the owner doesn’t.
"It should also help some people prepare for hurricane season in case they plan on leaving their boats out," Joseph said.
Deputies are used to keeping an eye on boats tied up in the St. Lucie Estuary. Most are well kept, but others are derelict and abandoned.
"It's actually gotten better. We’ve focused more on it and getting rid of them and working with the county to have them removed and brought to the landfill for destruction," Joseph said.
Last year, the Martin County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit investigated 30 derelict vessel cases.
Just five of the boats were brought into compliance by the owner, 10 were removed by the owner, and 15 were removed by code enforcement
In this case of the Jensen Beach boat, taxpayers may dodge footing the bill if the owner claims it.
"If you know there’s a storm coming, throw out another anchor. Just take care of your stuff," Joseph said.
The county has a boat registration fund to remove derelict vessels. Removals can cost thousands of dollars.