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Hey mom! Can we keep it, pretty please?
Just look what the tide washed in.
Residents living along the shore of Holmes Harbor got a surprise recently when a fiberglass sailboat washed up on shore and became embedded in the sand at low tide.
Freeland's Bill Mitchell first reported the boat to Island County Sheriff's office when it became beached in front of his home where he secured it to his bulkhead for a night. Expressing concern the mast might break his living room window, the boat was moved to a neighbor's beach.
Next door, a family vacationing from Miami saw the boat as a wonderful opportunity instead of a liability.
Cybele Botran and her two children are staying with family in Freeland. By reporting the license number on the boat to the Coast Guard, Botran was able to track down the owner who last registered the boat, a Marysville resident, John Rosenfield, who he sold the boat in 1989. According to the Coast Guard the boat was not re-registered.
The boat, a 1967 25-foot fiberglass Excalibur sailboat, has been moored in Holmes Harbor for about two years. The outboard engine is missing, but the sails are pretty much intact. Inside the boat there were few clues. It had a waterlogged spiral notebook -- apparently its logbook -- containing latitude and longitude position entries but nothing to identify the current owner.
Botran hopes her family will be able to buy the boat from Rosenfield since he is the last known owner or, failing that, apply for a lost title if the current owner is not found.
According to Russ Lindner, chief criminal deputy for Island County Sheriff's Office, "an abandoned boat is like any other abandoned vehicle on private property."
When a vehicle of any type is abandoned, the first step is to contact the owner to remove it, Lindner said. If an owner cannot be found, the property owner can apply for a lost title through the Department of Licensing. An affidavit and title are issued, and if no one claims the property in three years, the vessel becomes the property of the finder, he said.
The Island County Sheriff's Office does get a few calls every year about boats that have broken free during storms or because of inadequate moorage.
"It's not as common as you might think," said Jan Smith, spokeswoman for sheriff's office.
"We do assist people in tracking down the ownership of vessels that land on private beaches. If it's registered, it's easy to do. If not it presents a real challenge."
Smith said in most cases the boat belongs to someone nearby.
Island County Fire District 3's marine division will respond to vessels floating free in the water, but according to Darin Reid, chief of special services for the district, "if it's on shore or beached somewhere, the vessel does not pose any threat or danger to navigation."
About a week after the sailboat beached, Botran and several others managed to free the boat from the mud to take it back to its bright pink buoy, where it will stay while they wait for information about its owner.