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Staying Afloat 


Grant Scott Goforth's article "That Sinking Feeling" (March 24) gave a great overview of the problem of abandoned boats in coastal ports. San Francisco Bay was littered with abandoned ships during the Gold Rush. Los Angeles and San Diego had a pile of abandoned yachts and sail boats during various stock market and real estate down turns.

But as far as fishing boats are concerned, the source of many of those vessels has been federal government fisheries policy. The advent of the 200-mile limit in the 1970's removed all the foreign fleets from our fishing grounds. The federal government then provided the impetus via subsidies, loan guarantees and deferred taxes to fishermen, which dramatically increased fishing capacity by building newer, bigger boats. This increase in fishing power led to government blessed "over harvest" of ground fish stocks on both coasts. Later, that resulted in massive cutbacks to various fishing quotas and eventually a government sponsored "loan" program to buy out fishermen involved in trawl fishing.

On the East Coast, this program bought the permits and the boats (which were destroyed and recycled). On the West Coast, only the fishing permits were removed, leaving trawlers without permits in every west coast port. Today, West Coast ground fish stocks have been rebuilt to historic levels, but the abandoned boats still remain.

Ken Bates, F/V Ironic, Eureka


As a boat bum, I read last week's article "That Sinking Feeling" with great interest. Living on the bay and having watched two vessels sink (one due to misadventure, the other due to the williwaw we experienced a year ago December), I am quite cognizant of the concerns regarding derelict vessels and the attendant cost and environmental damage. Thus I found the article useful from both the historical perspective and as a cautionary tale; all-in-all a well-researched piece.

I recognize that the NCJ lacks the time and ability to independently assess the hull integrity and consequent buoyancy potential of marine craft; lacking a marine surveyor on staff. Thus, you must rely on the expertise and opinions of those most familiar with our bay. Speaking only of the two vessels in your map identified as "Boats of Concern" for the Eureka Marina, I found the choices somewhat curious with regard to whether they are of the "greatest" concern.

A near neighbor Sunset is currently occupied as a live-aboard by a man with a fair degree of familiarity with boat maintenance. While her topsides may appear a bit rustic, I have no reason to believe she has any immediate concerns regarding hull integrity and the potential to become a U-Boat. Contrariwise, her two adjacent neighbors Cleone of Eureka and Ferro-Maid are each seemingly derelict, both listing significantly to port, with topsides in massive disarray.

More importantly, I haven't seen anyone visit either boat in years (though Cleone of Eureka's fenders appear to be of more recent vintage suggesting that someone may have dropped by in the not-too-distant past). Separately, High Sea may be of concern as a buy-back with limited value, but by report it has a responsible owner and represents no immediate threat.

From a different perspective one can't help but wonder if the boats identified as "of concern" have more to do with the fact that they are both side-ties on the inner reach, and if either did sink, it would be into a ship channel (as was the case with the Dennis Gayle) and thus submerge completely, or because they are known to have fuel and other potential contaminants on board, whereas the two vessels I identified would simply lower themselves gently into the ever-accumulating mud that is a constant reality in the marina, their topsides proclaiming a new but still defiant balance between buoyancy and the law of gravity.

Bronco Weseman, Eureka

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