A derelict vessel that has eluded state authorities for nearly a month ran aground in Brighton Beach early Tuesday morning, ending the vessel’s lengthy elusive streak.
The 50-foot fiberglass boat, “Liberty,” was beached on Whidbey for a day before it was towed to Everett. The vessel could be seen on Brighton Beach all day Tuesday before contractors hauled it away around 1 p.m. Wednesday during high tide.
“We decided to take temporary possession of the vessel so it didn’t become a further danger,” Derelict Vessel Removal Program Temporary Manager Troy Wood said. “We didn’t want it to drift off during the next high tide and endanger other vessels navigating Puget Sound.”
Brighton Beach resident Peter Van Geisen first spotted the derelict vessel floating by his house early Tuesday morning, prompting him to call state authorities. Although he wasn’t that alarmed by the vessel, memories of the 2012 sinking of the Deep Sea in Penn Cove loomed.
“It’s a really nasty looking thing and it’s all in tatters,” Van Geisen said. “It looks like a ghost ship.”
Wood said the Derelict Vessel Removal Program, a Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) program, had difficulty locating the boat for some time because sightings were reported hours, sometimes days after the fact. The program, which is not a responding agency, has been receiving calls since Dec. 30. The calls indicated the ghost ship was floating around the Port Susan area, but tides constantly shifted its location since it never beached.
“We had been chasing it all over Port Susan,” Wood said. “We got calls hours later and often three, four or even six days after people saw it, so we wouldn’t know where the vessel was to secure it. We didn’t want to waste those resources on a wild goose chase.”
According to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s vessel documentation search, the boat’s last recorded owner was Quinten Shay; the vessel was moored in Port Ludlow. The documentation expired in 2008.
Wood said the vessel was not an environmental hazard. It was nothing more than an eye sore and a hazard to maritime navigation, particularly at night. The boat was cleaned of hazardous materials by another agency, the Tulalip Tribal Police, possibly in early December, Wood said. The Derelict Vessel Removal Program was not contacted at the time.
Unless Shay can prove he sold the vessel, he will be responsible for any tickets issued. Wood said abandoning a boat is a misdemeanor.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s vessel documentation search reports the 13-ton vessel was built in 1980. It was most likely used as a fishing vessel, and was once owned by Arlington-based Cossack Caviar Inc.