JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A yacht once worth hundreds of thousands of dollars that had been adrift for weeks in the St. Johns River will end up in a landfill.
The 50 foot Huckins yacht had been anchored near Ft. Caroline months ago before it broke loose from its mooring.
Orphaned without a captain or crew, the ghost vessel somehow avoided colliding with river traffic before mysteriously ending up partially sunk at Browns Creek.
It began taking on water with the partially submerged hull drifting on currents and occasionally grounding on river banks.
City of Jacksonville is working on salvaging the wreck but it will take considerable effort. Once a crane arrives next week it will be hauled on a barge to Fernandina Beach where it will be chopped to pieces and sent to a landfill.
The Huckins was not the result of any storm but derelict vessels have been a big problem in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Hundreds of vessels tossed onshore or submerged across Florida from the hurricane are abandoned.
The United States Coast Guard in coordination with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have recovered dozens of vessels in temporary storage facilities in Duval and St. Johns counties.
A recovery list shows 20 boats in Duval have been plucked out of the water and another ten are stored at Reynolds Park Marina in Green Cove Springs.
Owners of displaced boats are encouraged to hire a salvage company but many can’t afford repairs or determine that their boat is beyond repair.
Florida does not require boat insurance so many of the abandoned crafts are handed to the government to pay the bill and in the end means the taxpayer.
State grant money in the wake of Irma has significantly helped to cleaned up abandoned vessels that accumulated over the years..
Jacksonville Waterways Coordinator, Captain Jim Suber, said local cleanup efforts have been fabulous after Irma. "It took 10 years to clean up all the derelict vessels in south Florida after Hurricane Andrew, yet just 6 months after our hurricane most of the abandoned boats are gone around our waters."
Boat owners can release ownership to the state with a waiver by calling the Vessel Removal Hotline at 305-985-3744 for information. Or check the website: http://myfwc.com/boating/vessel-hotline/removal.
Homeowners with boats stuck on their property should consult Florida statute 823.11 to find out what financial recourse they may have against vessel owners.