All of us here in Puget Sound are aware that we've had some pretty tremendous wind storms lately, especially those of us who went days without power. But the boaters among us are even more aware. Whether your boat was tied to a dock, moored on a buoy, or (Heaven forbid) at anchor during these storms, there was a great risk of damage. In the worst case, the boat would be torn loose from its moorings...
And that happened to this Riviera Star 24 (made by Progressive Plastics in Richmond BC) that washed up onto the launch ramp at Camano Island State Park.
Apparently, adrift and driven by the high wind, the boat first ran into the finger dock and then jammed under it, keel first, where it spent some time, pounding on, and being pounded by the dock floats, as high wave after high wave passed thru. It must have at some time been nearly completely horizontal, since there is sea grass high in the rigging as well as all over the deck.
I spoke to the Park Ranger and asked what the story was about this poor runaway... He told me that they had been concerned about damage to their dock so they pulled the boat off and tied it as you see. The Park rules do not allow overnight moorage on the dock, so just tying it to the dock was not an option.
Talking to the Ranger, I allowed as how the Park had acquired a boat thru salvage rights. But no, he told me that their lawyer had advised him that the boat was still the property of the original owner, and that they had begun a legal notification process that would last at least 30 days. Supposedly at the end of the notification period, they could legally declare the boat as derelict and then take possession of it.
So... Has the park received good legal guidance, treating this boat exactly as if it were an abandoned automobile under land-based law? Doesn't a boat adrift constitute salvage under Admiralty law? I do know that when a friend of ours lost his engine, grounded on the rocks and called for a tow, his boat was declared salvage and became the property of the towing company (he eventually bought it back via the normal procedures).
How is this situation different?