Move it or lose it: Port of Keyport deals with derelict boats

A small crowd gathered in the basement of the Keyport Bible Church for a recent meeting of the Port of Keyport’s commissioners, where discussions surrounding derelict boats quickly became a hot button issue.

The Port of Keyport sent notices out to the owners of the derelict vessels last fall to inform them they would have 30 days to either prove that their boat was seaworthy or remove the boat from the marina before the port took possession and sold the boat at a public auction and opened up the slip to a new owner.

One of the derelict boat owners, Larry Beaver was present at the meeting and asked what he needed to do to bring his vessel out of derelict status with the port. According to the port commissioners, Beaver needs to prove that his boat runs by taking it out of the slip and bringing it back to the dock in the presence of one of the commissioners. Additionally, the port noted that Beaver’s boat was not licensed nor did they have his insurance on file.

Beaver claimed that he had not received the initial 30-day notice to get his boat operational nor did he receive a current moorage agreement.

In an effort to resolve these issues Beaver asked for 60 days to update his information, get his boat licensed and fully operable in order to give him a chance to keep his spot at the port. He claimed to need the additional days due to working in Seattle and only having the weekends available to work on it.

“You see where we’re coming from is that … it seems like the only time we ever hear from you or see you or anything gets done is when it’s the last minute,” Commissioner Brian Watne said at the meeting.

Beaver defended himself, saying that it would be nice to have better communication with the port and regarded the notices being issued without any previous conversation as unfriendly. He also stated that he would like to remain in Keyport and that moving a boat in the middle of winter is a difficult task.

“I would definitely like to stay here. I mean, it’s the middle of winter and I’ve been here for I don’t know how long … quite a while. I’ve never been behind on my moorage, I may have been late once or twice in a decade. But I am requesting that you give me another 60 days and send me a moorage agreement,” Beaver said.

The port agreed to do that, but some of those present at the meeting appeared to take issue.

Tom Mengert, who no longer has a vessel moored in Keyport, attended the meeting and noted that he had been through a similar situation with the port and acted within the 30 days of receiving the notice, but now feels that he could have had more time if asked.

“If suddenly things are going to go the other way and excessive time was granted that I could have had more time, it would have saved me possibly hundreds of dollars that I could have saved that I’ve now expended in an effort to be compliant. So this is a critical issue for me to hear tonight,” Mengert said.

Mengert wanted to know if he acted prematurely in his compliance and was assured by the commissioners that he hadn’t.

Another individual at the meeting noted the 30-day notice was in the ports bylaws and that members of the port should be aware of the rules.

Mengert responded by saying that just because a rule is written down doesn’t mean it is a realistic rule, noting his efforts to move his boat in winter and within the 30 days was lucky.

“There is such a thing though, that just because something is written down … doesn’t mean its a realistic rule. To get rid of a vessel in the middle of winter, I can tell you from just having gone through that experience has been an extremely difficult task,” Mengert said.

Ultimately the commissioners still awarded Beaver an additional 60 days to get his vessel operational and licensed.

After hearing from these individuals about the arduous task of trying to move their boats, Watne said that he would be bringing forth a proposed change to the bylaws at the next meeting which would extend the required moving time to 60 days rather than 30.

“The 30-day notice is actually a fairly short time period and so allowing somebody 60 days to try and find alternate moorage, that type of thing, that does make sense in some respects too so that’s where I was at,” Watne said.