Monday, October 30, 2017

How Washington's Derelict Vessel Program Works: A Real World Example

We get tangled in a sunken vessel in Friday Harbor - incident detailed here
I report the sunken vessel to the DNR, who run Washington's Derelict Vessel Program, mostly based on funds collected from boaters when they pay their state registration fees.
Vessel is listed as priority 4 as a result of my contact, per Jerry Farmer of the DNR
(A year passes)
A new version of Vessels of Concern list is published (they are published twice a year - the link points to the 10/2017 version)...  our sunken vessel has gone missing from the list!
I notice that the vessel has disappeared from the list and I contact Jerry Farmer at DNR, asking why the vessel was removed from the list.
Jerry Farmer replies that "...San Juan County is an authorized public entity (APE) that has the authority to remove vessels in accordance with RCW 79.100"  and that he had closed the DNR case on this vessel accordingly.  He also said, "However; some of our APE’s remove these vessels without following the custody process. If this is the case then they will not receive reimbursement from DNR’s derelict vessel removal account".  He referred me to Mark Herrenkohl of San Juan County, and also cc'd Mark.
Mark Herrenkohl contacts me and asks if I have the WN number of the sunken vessel.
I reply to Mark, telling him that in the confusion of having to hire a diver to get loose from Friday Harbor I did not have the foresight to ask the diver for the WN number on the vessel (assuming there was one...)
I query Mark, asking if there has been any progress
Mark responds that they have asked NOAA to mark the wreck on their charts.  And that they think the harbor is a busy place and maybe they shouldn't mark the wreck with a buoy.  He also says they are "talking about next steps."

So the current status, after the passing of a year and 4 months of conversations with very friendly, courteous, and open government officials, is that the wreck (and it's two sisters) is still on the floor of Friday Harbor, waiting to snag someone else's anchor or rode.  And I still avoid Friday Harbor, taking my boat and my patronage instead to Roche Harbor.

Apparently I screwed up big time by not asking the diver for the WN number, which would have allowed San Juan County to pursue the custody process with the last registered owner and therefore secure reimbursement from the DNR for the raising and disposal of the vessel.
SO REMEMBER:  If you ever have to hire a diver to get loose from a sunken wreck, ALWAYS GET THE WN NUMBER off the wreck!


The Cynical Sailor said...

It all sounds like such a nightmare. Good tip about having the diver get the number.

Rick said...

Ridiculous. How much time, money, or effort does it take to mark with a bouy and chart notation? Don't even care what level of government has jurisdiction, doing nothing doesn't pass the common sense test.

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