A boat taking on water and stuck in the marsh in Broad Creek on Hilton Head Island will stay there for the foreseeable future, authorities say.
The 25- to 30-foot unnamed vessel appears to have been abandoned almost five weeks ago just west of the Palmetto Bay Marina underneath the Charles E. Fraser Bridge, according to Ronald Plant, search and rescue controller at the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Charleston.
The boat, which had not been docked at the marina, dragged its anchor along the bank and eventually leaned enough so that it took on water, Plant and marina harbormaster Clay Mills said. Two weeks ago, the Coast Guard secured the boat where it is now, away from the navigable waters on the edge of the marina's mooring field, they said.
The state Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Health and Environmental Control also have assessed the vessel, said DNR 1st Sgt. Robbie Smith and DHEC spokeswoman Cassandra Harris.
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No one has attempted to remove the boat, and none of the agencies nor Mills has been able to contact the owner, who is purportedly out of the country, they said. The agencies are not authorized to remove the boat, but only to examine and secure it, Plant said.
Mills has asked the town to consider removing the vessel, as it did two shrimp boats stuck in Jarvis Creek last year. The town has not committed to the plan, Mills said. Town attorney Brian Hulbert said Mills should follow state protocols for an abandoned boat through DHEC, DNR and the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.
In the Jarvis Creek incident, the town ultimately paid $175,000 to dismantle and remove the boats from the creek after their owners said they could not afford the work.
It's not the first abandoned boat left near the Palmetto Bay Marina, which now has five derelict vessels with absentee owners and delinquent slip fees, Mills said. The marina can't afford to remove them, he added.
"It's just stuck sitting there," Mills said. "I never did touch it, because you know how it is, as soon as you touch it, it's yours. ... Just because it's close to us, doesn't mean we have to take it."