New rules hoped to speed Bradenton Beach derelict boat removal

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Bradenton Beach Police Lt. John Cosby and Officer Eric Hill discuss anchorage policing May 3 on the Historic Bridge Street Pier. Islander Photos: Kathy Prucnell
A vessel belonging to John Avery of Bradenton lists in Bradenton Beach anchorage. Authorities cited Avery for an open vessel taking on water without means to dewater and also for failing to maintain necessary lights.

Derelict vessels create hazards but new rules shorten the waiting time for their removal.

Cracked, leaking and abandoned vessels impede navigation, pollute the waterways and, in storms, damage docks and piers.

Not only do residents and businesses complain about unsightly vessels, so does the cruising community.

“From our perspective, derelict vessels are a problem — as are the parked ones that often become derelict,” said Kim Russo, president of the Great Loop Cruisers Association, with more than 4,000 members, many who winter in Florida. Vessels without occupants crowd the available space for boaters who wish to anchor for the night, legally empty their tanks and move on, she added.

To combat the problems, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission drafted new policies, which were disseminated at an April 18 meeting targeted for law enforcement interested in the issue, including the Bradenton Beach Police Department.

“Each municipality has their own unique set of issues … and is determining what’s best for them,” said Justin McBride, West Coast Inland Navigation District executive director.

The biggest change in current FWC recommended procedure would reduce a 45-day waiting period to 21 days, BBPD Lt. John Cosby said after attending the WCIND meeting in Venice.

Cosby heads the abandoned and derelict vessel removal program in Bradenton Beach, overseeing the removal of about 40 boats from the anchorage south of the Historic Bridge Street Pier since 2011.

The anchorage currently contains about 45 boats, many of which have no occupants.

Under the current ordinance, Bradenton Beach police must send certified mail for derelict boats, where ownership is known, and owners have 21 days to ask for a hearing. If no hearing is requested, they have 45 days to remove the vessel.

Vessels with no registered owner are classified as abandoned, tagged and owners must claim their boats within five days, after which the city can begin the removal process.

Cosby wants to expedite the derelict vessel process and believes the shortened waiting period will help, but first the city must enact changes to its current ordinance.

In addition to the local ordinance, BBPD officers may suggest charges under state law.

Cosby said while patrols, citations and reports will continue, BBPD won’t tag vessels for removal until the city ordinance aligns with the new FWC recommended procedures.

Bradenton Beach City attorney Ricinda Perry, who is preparing a draft ordinance said May 8 she is not sure when the proposed will be ready for commission review.

Meanwhile, two boats in the anchorage that have been lingering “for a long time” — a white Catamaran known as the ghost ship and a yellow cabin cruiser, “the largest one out there,” will be handled by the FWC, Cosby said, sparing the city the costs.

The city receives annual funding to remove abandoned and derelict vessels from West Coast Inland Navigation District through a partnership with Manatee County.

As of May 10, the city had $34,800 in its coffers for removal operations. Although Cosby expects an additional $25,000 in October, he doesn’t like to deplete the budget before hurricane season begins June 1.

In the past, N.E. Taylor Boatworks of Cortez has towed, dismantled and disposed of the vessels at average cost of $5,000 per boat.

2 thoughts on “New rules hoped to speed Bradenton Beach derelict boat removal

  1. Shawn

    Richard’s comment or 100% accurate and true! I myself, had moved into the Anchorage back in October of 2018. My mid life empty nest directed me right into a sailboat…lol. A new sense of purpose, peace & tranquility. A lifestyle that is questionable by some, admired by others & 100% invested in me! Every day is a new chapter & adventure…always pressing forward with positive vibes & eliminating the toxic influences. I am meticulous & strategic with my time and strive to take good care of the my vessel. As with anyone’s home, I do take pride in the appearance and always making efforts to improve such; as it it’s a direct reflection of our town I’m vacationing tourists.

    As I was getting adapted to the new Anchorage life, I started running into many obstacles affiliated with the other residents. Most of the occupants partake in some type of illegal drug activity and consume alcohol frequently. It was challenging to get employment due to ” guilty by association”. Despite the fact that I live in modest and respectful lifestyle, it’s somewhat hindered my reputation with a lot of local businesses.

    I firsthand have witnessed embarrassing criminal acts, & loud and abusive behavior late at night I have personally been bullied & harassed consistently by the ringleader.

    The Bridge Street Anchorage has so much potential and would love to have this as a gathering place, for boaters can come in…. wine, dine, enjoy the peaceful waterfront entertainment. We all want this to be a community where people want to return to. Implementing an organized strategy to create events that would attract the positive boaters, would greatly improve the business income in the local area. I would love to partake in assist in any means to better our community. Some of the negative influences have already met karma and have departed from the island. I am grateful for the local police enforcement and coast guard for their patience, due diligence, consistency and going above and beyond the call of duty to make Bradenton Beach a safer place! They have work so hard here because of the numerous calls and complaints in which they respond to. Their professionalism is outstanding and committmenr is top notch!

  2. Richard

    None of those boat in the second photo are the John Avery boat in question Also, it is very rare that cruisers passing through stop for a night even though Bradenton Beach is probably the BEST provisioning port on the entire Florida Gulf Intracoastal.

    There are some of us living on our boats here that would love to see the abandoned boats removed. Remember, too, that some of us live on anchor because it beats living under a bridge, and THAT is the alternative for some of us. Nearly all of the people living in the anchorage have jobs on the island and we ALL spend nearly all the money we have right here on the island. At Walgreens, Dollar Tree, Ace Hardware, Publix, CVS.

    Those of us living “on the hook” are NOT the ones sneaking in under cover of darkness and dropping an anchor on a derelict vessel and disappearing. OUR BOATS ARE OUR HOMES!

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