Time is ticking for the beached carcass of the concrete-hulled Pacific Sun King in Cadboro Bay.
The boat washed up in a violent storm on Dec. 5, bucked to a high point on the beach by waves of a size rarely seen on Cadboro Bay.
Since then the sheet metal roof has been removed, likely for its recycling value, as well as a plastic fuel tank and most of the owner’s personal items.
The Coast Guard sealed a second fuel tank on the boat, limiting the seepage of diesel which had temporarily closed the beach Dec. 13.
Though the owner has removed much of his belongings it’s believed the removal of the roof has led to the additional wash-up of other materials on the beach.
A stormy fall has led to Saanich parks crews spending additional time cleaning up debris. Saanich has placed a container on the beach to collect debris.
“We appreciate resident/volunteers in the area helping out, trying to clean up debris that’s washed ashore,” said Harley Machielse, Saanich director of engineering.
A significant crack in the hull of the Sun King means the ship is no longer seaworthy. And with the owner already declaring to Saanich he is without the means to recover the boat, the responsibility for its salvage is now drifting towards Saanich.
Tim Johnston is the owner operator of C-Tow Victoria marine assistance, the company that pulls beached vessels back into the water along the South Island.
At last count, Johnston said 15 boats have come ashore this year, compared to five last year.
All indications are that the 40-tonne Sun King will remain at the centre of Caddy Bay beach for a while yet.
“In the past there were boats that sat on the beach for two years, three years ago, such as two sailboats and a the barge [burnt houseboat],” Johnston said.
C-Tow teamed with Saanich in November to pull two boats off the Caddy Bay beach, a red sailboat with a broken mast and a wooden cabin cruiser responsible for littering the beach with hypodermic needles.
Retrieving some boats, such as the 20-foot sailboats which tend to come ashore most often in Caddy Bay, is as simple as towing them off the beach at high tide. Johnston believes the Pacific Sun King, however, will require a crane.
“Once a concrete boat starts breaking there’s nothing to do to patch it.”
Of the three sailboats that were ashore farther down Caddy Bay towards the Oak Bay side, one is actually sitting on the skeleton of a concrete boat that pokes just a few inches out of the sand.
“Sometimes with [beached vessels] you can’t see everything,” Johnston said.
There are surprises, such as a punctured hole. In those cases C-Tow will flip the boat so it’s leaning the other direction. It gives the owner a chance to patch the damaged side.
Canada and B.C. are without a removal system for situations such as the Pacific Sun King’s, such as Washington state’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program.
At this time there is also no formal policy for “live-aboards,” or anchor boaters, except for a push to ban the practice within 300 metres of Saanich shorelines.
It’s not fair, said Pacific Sun King owner Cyril Manuel, who points to the history of live-aboard residents in Greater Victoria.
“Look at the pictures of the Inner Harbour in the 1890s, it’s full of anchor boaters,” Manuel said. “They helped build this town, they’ve been here since the beginning. Boaters have been helpful in every way, [the local marine] is not just for tourist attractions and docks for the rich.”