ILWACO — Port of Ilwaco officials are working on a plan to get the derelict Lihue II out of the slip where it sank on Nov. 18, but it’s likely to be there for a few more months.
“We’re working with the Department of Natural Resources Derelict Vessel Program,” Port Manager Guy Glenn Jr. said on Jan. 5. “There’s a process they have to go through.”
The 79-year-old fishing boat sailed into Ilwaco in mid-November. Though it looked battle-weary, port staff did not see any obvious signs of trouble before it suddenly sank during a storm.
“This situation was pretty much unavoidable,” Glenn said. “We take a lot of measures to avoid these kinds of situations, but when a boat comes in without advance notice and ties up and we can’t get a hold of anyone, what more can we do?”
Responders from the U.S. Coast Guard and state Department of Ecology quickly pumped out remaining oil and fuel and took other measures to stabilize the boat, so there was no significant spill, Glenn said.
However, no one came forward to claim responsibility for the Lihue.
As is often the case with derelict boats, it had changed hands a few times and the paperwork was a mess.
When port officials get stuck with an orphaned derelict boat, they have to legally gain custody before they can apply for state money to help with removal costs.
Glenn has sent out notices to the two most likely recent owners, but it’s rare for someone to come forward in these situations.
“No one’s going to claim responsibility for it,” Glenn said. “But if it’s their boat, we have to give them the opportunity to cure the problem.”
Once the port officially has custody, Glenn can ask the state to help with the removal process. In the meantime, he’s working with the state Department of Enterprise Services, which seeks bids for salvage efforts like this one.
Glenn said the cost of getting a derelict boat out of the water can vary widely, depending on the boat’s condition and other factors. He doesn’t know yet what it will cost to move the Lihue out of the marina.
“We’ve never had anything this large to deal with. It’s probably going to involve more effort than a small pleasure craft,” Glenn said.
He hopes to have a removal plan in place some time in April.
For the moment, the boat isn’t causing any environmental harm, and since it’s the off-season for fishing, it probably isn’t taking up space that might otherwise be occupied by a paying customer.
Still, Glenn said, they’d like to have it out of the marina as soon as possible.
“It’s taking up two slips,” he said. “We’ll need those as we get closer to summer.”