Abandoned Boat Sinks in Brixham Harbour

A Ferro cement hull Schooner has sunk in Brixham Harbour. It has served as a timely reminder of the costs an abandoned boat can cause. The Harbour authority now face the costly prospect of footing the estimated 100k bill for her recovery and disposal.

The 70ft boat “Sea Beast” had been moored on a swing mooring. But last year had been brought in alongside the pontoon. According to local opinion the former owner had walked away from the boat. The harbour authority had since gained control of her.

Cluttered Harbours Isn’t Rare

Harbour master for Tor Bay Harbour Authority Adam Parnell told Marine Industry News that boats in advanced stages of deterioration cluttering harbours isn’t rare.

“Lots of harbours suffer from end of life boats. Many harbours have creeks or beach where the ‘ghosts of boats past’ end up.

“Tor Bay is lucky in that it doesn’t have that. But also unlucky as it doesn’t have anywhere out of sight to leave boats until time, and funding, allows their disposal.”

Parnell added that in his experience, boats tend to be abandoned as owners can’t afford to look after them. Once the boat’s condition is poor, it tends to deteriorate quickly.

“It’s likely,” says Parnell, “that if the owner can’t afford to pay their dues, they cannot afford to maintain and repair their boat. Very quickly the boat will have no material value. Then the boat will get picked-over and broken into and rapidly deteriorate further.

“You end up with boats with no real value. They are bought by someone who will then have to do them up fast. Those boats are cheap for a reason. Sometimes new owners can’t keep pace with the repairs required and it ends up with either sinking or scrapping. People say they’ve got insurance but that can be cancelled or not renewed.”

Boat Scrapyard Opinions

We shared the news article on our Boat Scrapyard Group and the members shared the concerns raised about the situation.

One member commented, “The harbour master would have taken control after notice period! There would have been plenty of signs she was low in the water for a while! If it’s the harbour master trying to sell it on eBay in that condition then he shouldn’t be in the job!”

Another member replied, “That’s three boats sunk in Brixham this year. And a harbour master that until recently had no boat in Brixham to check on any boat”.

Some sympathy was offered by a member, “Maybe this was a victim of lockdown restrictions. People haven’t been able to go and check on their boats.”

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Scrappage Scheme

A local member in Southampton added, “The biggest problem we are experiencing on the River Itchen is no one will accept responsibility to remove these wrecks. Most of these boat owners won’t be paying for a Boat Disposal company to take them away.  ideally there should be some Government Scrappage scheme where if needed the Boats are impounded and dispose off and funding is provided.”

We agree with our members and the wider frustration on situations like this. Our director Steve added, “Yet another abandoned boat finds itself uninsured and sunk in a harbour. Very damaging for the local environment and expensive to recover and dispose of. Would have been 10% of the cost to scrap if we had been called in earlier!”