Fri., January 6, 2012 3:32pm (EST)

Sinking Boats Torpedo Budgets
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 2 years ago

BRUNSWICK, Ga.  —  
Sunken boats, like this one near Sapelo Island, are a danger to marine traffic. (Photo Leah Cheady)
Sunken boats, like this one near Sapelo Island, are a danger to marine traffic. (Photo Leah Cheady)
Taxpayers in coastal Brunswick are likely to end up footing the bill to raise and dispose of a sunken and abandoned shrimp boat.

Boat abandonment remains a costly issue for governments up and down the coast.

When the 53-year-old shrimp trawler Bossy Betty sank at Brunswick's city dock last month, it joined a long and ignoble list of boats, barges and other vessels left in coastal waters for someone else to pick up.

Georgia Coastal Resources Division compliance officer Buck Bennett says, about 140 such hazards are littering the Georgia coast.

"The shrimping industry has been hit really hard with imports and the fleet is aging," Bennett says. "It is very difficult for insurance companies to give insurance policies on those types of vessels."

Brunswick paid about $70,000 the last time a boat sunk at the dock, a few years ago.

Now Brunswick Mayor Bryan Thompson says, city officials are considering their options, including leasing the historic dock to a private operator.

"It's sort of turned into kind of a parking lot for aging and unused shrimp boats," Thompson says.

Portuguese mariners and their descendents made their living from the dock for generations.

Today, tourists snap pictures at the dockside park and the city holds large public events there.

The city can't turn to the state for help, either.

State lawmakers stopped funding derelict boat removal four-years-ago amid the state budget crunch.