Eastney beach is a hot spot for end-of-life and abandoned boats. Over the years the Boatbreakers team has been tasked with removing many of the boats that have been ditched on the beach by former owners.

TP was the latest yacht we had been asked to remove and she came with a formidable reputation. We were told her that her owner wasn’t the most pleasant man. There were stories that he had threatened people with machetes and crowbars whenever he was confronted about not paying a penny in Harbour fees for 10 years.

A Simple Plan

Our plan was a simple one, we would come on our workboat and tow TP away by water. That way there was less chance of her owner causing us any harm.

When the tide and conditions were favourable we chugged our workboat out of Portsmouth Harbour and around to Eastney. The journey was smooth and all seemed to be going to plan, however when we got close to the boat’s location it became clear our boat was just too big to get in close enough to remove TP from the shallow water near the beach.

Back to the Drawing Board

We had to have a rethink and we returned to the yard empty-handed. The next day our team went down to the boat to try and pull her in up the beach so she could be collected by Hi-ab lorry. As well as getting her up the beach we also chopped down the mast ready for collection.

All seemed to be going to plan again as we had prepped the boat for collection and avoided any abuse from a dangerous old man with a crowbar.

The next day we had a call from the Harbour board to tell us that the boat had been pushed back out into deeper water during the night.

Fun and Games

To manoeuvre other boats into position on the beach we had enlisted the help of some local guys who had smaller workboats but when it came to TP nobody wanted to take the risk due to fear of retribution from the former owner.

Our team again went down to Eastney and dragged the boat back up the beach. We were there on the highest tide of the month so we hoped we had pulled her into a position where she couldn’t be refloated.

This latest move was on a Friday evening and the boat’s scheduled collection date was the following Tuesday. We just needed no funny business from the owner over the weekend.

Saturday and Sunday came and went with no calls about the boat being tampered with. On Monday morning the first thing we did was take a trip down to Eastney to check on the boat. As we came past Southsea Marina we instantly noticed the boat wasn’t where we had left her.

Overnight Arson

As we came around the corner of Ferry road the penny soon dropped on what had happened. There was the boat, sat on the mud and burnt out. According to boat owners in the neighbouring boat yard the boat had been set adrift again then torched by the former owner at around 3am that morning.

The Fire brigade had been on site and extinguished the fire whilst the RNLI were called to search for any potential casualties. Once the tide came in the boat also sunk as there was lots of extra weight inside due to the water from the firemen’s hoses. The fire has also caused extensive damage on the port side which had caused a large hole just above the waterline.

It was lucky that the burning boat didn’t drift into any other boats or the nearby pontoon or the damage could have been fatal. Worryingly we did notify the police and they couldn’t be any less bothered about it if they tried which surprised us.

Refloat the Wreck

The tide was down at 6am so our team went down there with a heavy-duty water pump and managed to empty most of the water out of her. It was then a waiting game to see if the boat would refloat as the tide came in around her. We had also arranged with the Harbour Board to come across in their work rib and to gently move the boat into a position where she could be collected.

By 10:30am the boat to our relief was floating, just, and the harbour team managed to slowly move her close to the slipway where the lorry would be able to get close enough to lift.

As the boat was put it position at high tide it did once again start to sink. Again this was a relief as it meant that it would stay exactly where we need it to. Our team did hang around until the tide started to drop off again just to make sure this time it was staying put.

When the Hi-ab turned up it was then just a case of waiting for the water to drop so we could get the strops under the hull. We had planned to drill some holes in the hull to help with drainage but it was clear that as the tide dropped the seacock had suddenly opened and the sea water was cascading out.

Up and Away

After an hour of waiting for the water to drop out and drain the boat was plucked from the beach and loaded onto the back of the truck. It was then delivered back to our yard and we took great pleasure in finally seeing her crushed up.

TP was probably the first boat that we’ve tried to collect that’s had someone actively fighting against it being moved. But luckily for us, we eventually had the last laugh and Eastney beach is clear of another abandoned boat.