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How Lee County Deals With Abandoned And Derelict Boats

Ashley Lopez

Lee County is in the middle of a month-long sweep of the area’s waterways. The County is working to remove 16 abandoned and derelict boats.

Justin McBride, Lee County’s Coastal Project Manager, said you can hear pretty often along Lee County’s coastline because this program goes on all year here.

McBride said the county gets grant money to pay for contractors to haul out, demolish and dispose the area’s neglected boats.

These boats are usually no longer capable of navigating on their own or have not been tended to for 30 days or more. Sometimes they are even under water. They end up becoming a navigational and environmental hazard, which is why officials have to step in and get rid of them.


McBride said the program removes an average of 70 boats a year. He said it’s a problem common to any coastal town.

“This is a nationwide if not a worldwide problem,” McBride explained. “Anytime you have a coastal environment people have vessels that they think are going to be their dream vessels and they end up not being able to take care of them and they become derelict and abandoned.”

McBride said the number of derelict or abandoned boats has stayed fairly constant through the past 20 years.

He said there’s usually only a change in what’s causing people to abandon their boats.

Credit Ashley Lopez / WGCU

After Hurricane Charley, a lot of boaters left the state without dealing with their boats. Then there was the recession, which became another common reason, too.

But, McBride said there’s really no typical story and no typical boat.

“In the last ten years we’ve done over 640 boats,” he said. “I’ve seen everything from barges to runabouts to yachts—you name it. There is no one type of abandoned vessel.”

In that time, Lee County has spent $1.5 million in grants removing these boats. McBride said he goes through a lengthy process aimed at verifying whether a boat is truly abandoned and there’s no one else to deal with it.

Ashley Lopez is a reporter forWGCUNews. A native of Miami, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a journalism degree.