A trio of boats washed ashore in Cadboro Bay last week, reigniting concerns over derelict and abandoned boats in Saanich waters.
Unlike the derelict catamaran sitting in the Gorge Waterway, however, the matter was cleared up in a matter of days. One owner towed her own boat off the beach, while the removal of the others was approved by Transport Canada and done in part by Saanich with C-Tow marine assistance.
Ian Hinkle, a Cadboro Bay resident, was most concerned with the biggest of the three, a teetering 28-foot wood cabin cruiser that leaked fuel into the bay and was responsible for nearly two dozen hypodermic needles which forced Saanich to close the beach until Monday.
Hinkle took it upon himself to deal with the leaking fuel and some of the scattered debris from the wood boat.
“To me, the most important issue is this boat could have been dealt with earlier,” Hinkle said. “It showed up a day or two before the [Nov. 12] winds, which smashed it up. The big issue is that’s not a registered vessel, it’s a known problem and we knew a storm was coming.”
The Royal Victoria Yacht Club member was grateful when the club immediately donated a spill kit and the use of a zodiac to attend the scene.
“When I told them it was leaking they jumped to it. It’s not their problem so it’s great that they’d do it,” Hinkle said.
The amount of fuel leaked was hard to gauge but Hinkle removed an overturned 19-litre jerry can of diesel that was spilling onto the deck. Because it was leaning so heavily, the oil came out the vents, which Hinkle attempted to plug.
He was also the first to collect hypodermic needles, most with caps still on, from the shore.
“We can’t know how much fuel but it was seen about [20 metres] along the shore. It’s sad that people came and stripped this boat and left the toxins, lead acid batteries, an open propane tank and the leaking gas can.”
Saanich had the boat towed to Cattle Point where it was shipped it to public works. It’s now being destroyed. A subsequent search on Saturday found two more needles which forced Saanich to close the beach until early in the week.
Last month Saanich passed a bylaw amendment that ruled live-a-board or functioning boats can anchor for only 72 hours within 300 metres of a Saanich shoreline. The bylaw is only part of a greater solution, council admitted. And on Monday council was expected to approve a preliminary estimate of $8,000 to remove the derelict catamaran that’s been sitting at Curtis Point in the Gorge Waterway since before Thanksgiving.
Further down the beach on Friday was Amy Brendon’s 22-foot sailboat. The former Qualicum Beach resident lived aboard it this year while working and finishing her post secondary studies. She only moved off it two weeks ago but plans to move back aboard as soon as she can figure out how to heat it.
She’s one of many in the Cadboro Bay live-a-board community, most who are very responsible she said.
“A fellow walking along the beach looking for his boat called me [Thursday night],” said Brendon.
She makes it easy to do, as her phone number is posted in the window of her boat for situations such as this.
“Everyone should. I’ve seen a couple that do but most people don’t, which is ridiculous. If your boat is on the beach more than a day or two it’s going to get screwed.”
A loose anchor knot led to Brendon’s boat washing ashore around 3 p.m. on Thursday, she estimates.
A third boat also showed up and rested against the cement structure on the east side of the beach, close to the Cadborosauras.
That boat, a red sailboat, was also removed, including the broken mast and sail floating in the water beside it.
A regular Cadoboro Bay beach goer said he didn’t recognize the boat and opened the hatch for a peak inside but couldn’t find anything to link it to an owner.
“You can tell by the hull maintenance someone was taking care of this. It’s a sweet boat.”
For Hinkle, the problem is a lack of stewardship to deal with derelict boats.
“Down at the end of the [Cadboro Bay] is the barge that caught fire [in 2013], it’s still there. Canada needs a system to deal with this, we willfully avoid the problem.”
Washington state’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program only came about in recent years and works well, Hinkle said.
“I pay $134 per year for a Washington state sticker which helps fund the derelict boat removal program. Canada needs to do that.”