Sailboat saga: Day 4 off Beach Drive for troubled trimaran

February 16, 2013 at 11:10 am | In Seen at sea, West Seattle news | 54 Comments

(EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re continuing to update the story – scroll down for the latest)

11:10 AM: Thank you to Michelle for the updates on the case of the trimaran in trouble off Beach Drive; this is the fourth day, but apparently possibly final, as her newest photo (above) shows that someone is here to tow it assist. Earlier this morning, she had sent a photo showing both the trimaran and its owner’s smaller boat were swamped:

Beach Drive Blog was first to report on the plight of a boat some commenters recognized as having been offered recently for free in a Craigslist ad.

(This photo and next, by Nick Adams for WSB)
12:21 PM UPDATE: Photojournalist Nick Adams is at the scene for WSB and says the Department of Ecology is on site; with the tide out, as his photos show, the boat’s apparently basically wreckage on the beach.

The photo above shows what commenter KMF pointed out – part of the boat has broken away.

12:40 PM UPDATE: Nick reports a salvage company is coming from Lynnwood. The mast is a big worry – neighbor Michelle adds via e-mail that there’s concern it will crash into a unit at Harbor West if not moved away soon.

4:40 PM: Update from Michelle – a crew has arrived on scene. And the rising tide shows another view of the boat’s “blown-out” side:

The next high tide isn’t till after 10 pm. And Michelle tells us the crew just chain-sawed the mast. (P.S. Turns out we have TWO nearby-residing Michelles who have kindly been sharing photos and information. Thanks to both!)

6:28 PM: As the sun sets:

From the neighbor, who says, “The owner is still down moving things, but the crew is gone.”

54 Comments

  1. Looks like one of the pontoons broke away from tri in the surf just now. There’s some folks pumping fuel from the smaller boat now too.

    Comment by KrautMickFriend — 11:48 am February 16, 2013 #

  2. So is someone going to remove these wrecks? The only boat I saw at 11am was the spill-containment boat. At this point, both those boats are so far gone (the smaller runabout’s hull was flexing like crazy every time a wave hit it, and the motor is completely covered by seawater), anyone who thinks either of these boats can be repaired is engaging in Magical Thinking.
    .
    At some point some common sense and a realistic assessment of what towing that vessel would entail should have entered into the Skipper’s decision matrix. Boating is not a cost-free endeavor, and can be damned expensive. He was irresponsible, and it appears that we (the taxpayers) will ultimately be on the hook for this one. It’s too bad he’s of limited means, but that doesn’t give him the right to engage in an activity that had a high probability of going south like this.

    Comment by BeachDriveBoy — 11:55 am February 16, 2013 #

  3. We have a crew heading back over for an update. I’m also changing “tow” to “assist” …

    Comment by WSB — 12:12 pm February 16, 2013 #

  4. Could a requirement that vessel operators have insurance (like we require for motor vehicle operators) be a ‘bad idea whose time has come’? As an avid boater, this, along with recreation craft operator licensing, has been something I’ve been against, but being on the hook for someone else’s irresponsibility is galling as well.

    Comment by BeachDriveBoy — 12:20 pm February 16, 2013 #

  5. Updating: Our crew is there and says Department of Ecology is on scene. Tide is out so boat wreckage is on shore again.

    Comment by WSB — 12:20 pm February 16, 2013 #

  6. Well said and totally agree BDB. WSB this is a salvage operation now. The owner of these boats gives the whole boating community a black eye and needs to be held accountable someway. Time to get a dumpster and chain saw.

    Comment by wetone — 12:37 pm February 16, 2013 #

  7. Already added that … Our crew at the scene reports a salvage company is en route from Lynnwood.

    Comment by WSB — 12:41 pm February 16, 2013 #

  8. With that furniture on top it’s like a trailer park on the water!

    Comment by valvashon — 12:42 pm February 16, 2013 #

  9. We stopped by this morning while the tide was in. There is also a lot of trash on the rip rap that certainly came from these two wrecks. This looks like someone’s bad idea fueled by beer. I hope the DOE and the Coast Guard can recoup the money this is going to cost.

    Comment by westseattlecodger — 1:11 pm February 16, 2013 #

  10. I haven’t noticed any beer can trash when I’ve been by the scene.

    Comment by Rhonda Porter — 1:28 pm February 16, 2013 #

  11. I had a powerboat some years ago and I made sure I had towing insurance for this sort of thing. I can’t believe someone bought a boat and didn’t have $1,000. In better news – Washington State now requires boaters to get a boat operator license. I’m not saying that will prevent every act of irresponsible boating, but it should help.

    Comment by skeeter — 1:28 pm February 16, 2013 #

  12. @ valvashon — Funneee!

    Comment by Been There — 1:51 pm February 16, 2013 #

  13. Looks like it is a bi-marane now!

    Comment by Rumbles — 3:29 pm February 16, 2013 #

  14. Wonder if this is the same guy who abandoned the sailboat in Fauntleroy Cove?

    Comment by pigeonmom — 3:58 pm February 16, 2013 #

  15. I looked that up a couple days ago but mostly in the context of “no, not the same boat” (before the “this one was given away at Shilshole” intel showed up). Don’t know the names in either case. Here’s a photo we ran with the guy from Fauntleroy Cove:
    .
    http://westseattleblog.com/2012/11/saw-the-fauntleroy-cove-commotion-sailboat-trouble

    Comment by WSB — 4:46 pm February 16, 2013 #

  16. The newish Boater’s Licence is only required for those born after 1955, for some odd reason. So if you are older you do not need to know basic boating skills when out on the water….?
    Also, its an open book test so not really any type of proof of experience or knowledge.

    Comment by tk — 4:48 pm February 16, 2013 #

  17. So where is the owner/skipper in all this? No news about him/her? No comment from him/her? Really, what is the deal here? So curious about the back story.

    Comment by norskgirl — 5:13 pm February 16, 2013 #

  18. Sure hope it does not start leaking/leaching fuel in the water!

    Comment by Rvesdocs — 5:24 pm February 16, 2013 #

  19. And then, there are those who think we don’t need rules and regulations.

    Take a good look at this twerp…

    Comment by Genesee Hill — 6:19 pm February 16, 2013 #

  20. Any update on the owner’s situation with this as it proceeds? It seems he has either not woken up or has not been involved since he hasn’t been mentioned with these updates.

    Comment by Ian — 6:25 pm February 16, 2013 #

  21. It looks a lot bigger in person compared to the photographs that are posted here. And, a lot of stuff on the beach that will float around at high tide, unless it does not come all the way up to the wall of the pool bulkhead. Counted 4 new ropes to tie her off to the swimming pool rails. Suppose at next couple of low tides they will have to get the chain saw out again. Not a good spot to haul stuff out. Would have been better over on the park side. Now that free boat looks like it will cost a couple thousand bucks to get off the beach to the dump if not more.

    Comment by Don — 6:38 pm February 16, 2013 #

  22. Late this afternoon I saw that the owner was on the boat while the work crew was there. The work crew was very respectful to the gentleman, saying, “Sorry for your loss.”
    .
    Passers-by on the beach we expressing similar sentiments.
    .
    Later I saw the gentleman sitting in a van up on the street.
    .
    It’s not like he did this on purpose, or intentionally inflicted this mess on the community. For a few days he had a pretty cool dream. I’m glad I live in a world where people dream.

    Comment by Lura Ercolano — 6:40 pm February 16, 2013 #

  23. I find the earlier trailer park comment troubling rather than funny… and, I don’t understand why some people choose to ridicule or judge others without knowing all their circumstances. FWIW, I’ve seen many people, both “Have’s” and “Have Not’s” get themselves into situations similar to this. The main difference is that the “Have’s” can usually muster more resources…or insurance… after such a situation arises. This could be a “bad idea fueled by beer”, but taking the Devil’s Advocate role: what if it was this person’s dream to have a boat; what if he does have the skills to fix and rebuild it once it gets to where it is going? What if the person who offered it on Craigslist for free misrepresented its condition in order to avoid disposal fees? I’m also glad to see people dream and go after opportunities…

    Comment by homedk — 6:59 pm February 16, 2013 #

  24. I talked to the vessel owner around 4:30 Saturday evening. He was still sorting through his possessions and attempting to haul a few items at a time under the Harbor West building and up the hill to his van.
    .
    I talked to him as he was sitting in his nearly full, older mini van. He was a very nice older gentleman who obviously was still in a state of shock.
    .
    He confirmed the story of getting the boat for free off of craigslist, (he was the first of 50 folks who responded) and told me the boat was just fine while sitting in the protected waters of Shilshole Marina, but once he got the boat out into the Sound, he told me that the hull was soft enough that it could just not take the waves. He said he had owned the vessel for just a week. He said he had no insurance.
    .
    The owner also told me he was towing the boat down to Tacoma, and planned to live aboard the vessel.
    .
    If anyone is at fault, I would say it is the person on craigslist who gave it away. I hope the previous owner can be located, so perhaps he / she can answer for their actions.
    .
    For the elderly owner – I feel for him.
    .

    Comment by kevin — 7:58 pm February 16, 2013 #

  25. Is the boat still there as of Saturday evening? This story is interesting to me and I want to see it for myself. I could go Sunday morning if the boat is still around.

    Comment by Skeeter — 8:17 pm February 16, 2013 #

  26. Update from Beach Drive Blog, which was first to report the situation back when the boat turned up off Emma Schmitz/Me-Kwa-Mooks Wednesday morning.
    .
    http://beachdriveblog.com/2013/02/update-troubled-trimaran.html
    .
    P.S. I’m researching the boat’s backstory.

    Comment by WSB — 8:20 pm February 16, 2013 #

  27. Homedk…. Excellent comment. I completely agree

    Comment by Tw — 8:53 pm February 16, 2013 #

  28. No, I don’t know the guy’s situation but piling some rent-to-own style sofas on a free boat and towing it down to Tacoma sure sounded and looks like a trailer-trashy idea to me, hence the joke.

    Many years ago when I was looking at houses here in West Seattle I spotted a forlorn foreign car of the same make I drove. It was in about the same shape as that trimaran, however, a deal was made and I ended up trying to drive it to my mechanic in Tacoma who was eager to have it for parts. It, too, did not make it but at least I did not have a sofa strapped to the top when I finally broke down on Pacific Highway South in Fife. So there is a right way to do this type of thing and yeah, I’ve been there. That was the longest day ever and I didn’t make a dime off of that deal. Free is sometimes the most expensive thing ever.

    And I’m also glad we live in a world where people can dream.

    Comment by valvashon — 8:55 pm February 16, 2013 #

  29. Thank you, Homedk. Well said.

    Comment by Chris W — 9:30 pm February 16, 2013 #

  30. Dreamers have to exert some sort of common sense, from time to time.

    They also don’t have the right to pollute waterways or put their trash into others yards.

    Comment by Tony S — 10:15 pm February 16, 2013 #

  31. This is no ones fault except for the owner of the boats and he should be held accountable for all clean up and disposal. The man that is involved with this mess had no business doing what he did, or being on the water for any reason as he had and has no clue to what he was and is doing. He accepted this boat as is and accepted all responsibly that follows. It is his fault for not getting someone down there to survey it before he accepted it no excuses. Dreaming is great but sometimes it cost ya, but in this case I think it will end up costing a us. Would be interesting to see if this was the same guy that was involved in that last boating incident as they sort of looked the same.

    Comment by wetone — 10:29 pm February 16, 2013 #

  32. Good grief, everything has to be so earnest, what a way to not live. Anyone who is unable to chuckle at the trailer park comment either has never lived in a trailer park or sh*tty neighborhood, or they live in an upscale bubble. My trailer park life experiences were and are filled w people who can laugh at their own predicament, or don’t care that they are even in a so called predicament. Anyone who even considers towing a rotting & delaminating hull around the Sound in February is not a dreamer but instead is a fool. Go wring your hands out in the saltwater, and maybe think of helping the foolish guy cut the junk boat up and load it into a dumpster. Or cough up some cash to help the dude.

    Comment by Been There — 11:21 pm February 16, 2013 #

  33. I feel compassion for the poor guy. Yes, it was a bad decision and, yes, he is ultimately responsible for the mess which happened. However, he did not simply abandon the wreck. He’s been going back and has tried, within his limited means, to find a way out of the mess. It’s got to be awfully hard to keep showing up and facing the disaster, especially when one lacks the means to set things right. Blame assignment aside, he’s having a terrible week and I’m going down there tomorrow morning to see if there is anything I can do to ease his suffering a little. I’m not interested in condemning him – he’s already going through hell and it’s a hell he knows he got himself into. He’s a human being who could probably use a little kindness to bolster his spirit. That much I can give him.

    Comment by Scooterista — 1:00 am February 17, 2013 #

  34. This is an extremely unfortunate situation. In hindsight, with some different planning and actions much (or all) of this blight might have been avoided.
    The skipper assumed ownership of the tri “as is”. He became fully responsible for it (not the previous owner). Regardless of his circumstances, he remains accountibile for the wreckage clean up. How irresponsible and unfair it will be if the effort and cost of clean up is passed along to others.

    Comment by norskgirl — 8:26 am February 17, 2013 #

  35. Hmmm, I think there’s some shared responsibility by the previous owner. Norskgirl – suppose I have a couch I don’t want, and rather than pay disposal and hauling fees I put it outside with a “free” sign. Suppose that later someone has moved the couch to your yard, and you could identify it as my old couch – wouldn’t you expect me to come help you get rid of it?

    Comment by Lura Ercolano — 12:31 pm February 17, 2013 #

  36. I went down there to take a look for myself. The boat is a lot bigger than the pictures make it out to be. It’s quite a large boat. The tow boat (that failed) did not appear to be of adequate size to tow such a large vessel even under the best scenario.

    I can’t fault the previous owner. The boat may have not been seaworthy but that is for the current owner to determine, not the previous owner. Once you sign a vehicle or vessel over, the new owner is completely responsible. The couch example by Lura isn’t a reasonable comparison imo. A vessel has paperwork that both seller and buyer complete and file with the state. It’s not like an undocumented couch with a “free” sign by the side of the road.

    Comment by Skeeter — 1:54 pm February 17, 2013 #

  37. There is no such thing as a “FREE BOAT”!!! My 20′ sailboat ended up on the rocks twice in November of 2010 and man I could of used all the help and news coverage and attention …….:-)

    Comment by William — 9:16 pm February 17, 2013 #

  38. Apparently west seattle is filled with mean people:(

    Comment by Sad about ws — 11:36 pm February 17, 2013 #

  39. Well, I walked down there this afternoon and it’s just a mess. Evidently the boat smashed into the PVC sewer pipes at multiple spots under the Harbor West condos because there is water (sewage) pouring out of them onto the beach. That has to be some sort of health hazard. I want to call someone but who do I call?

    It’s just depressing to see all the wreckage from this boat strewn up and down the beach. It looks like a third world country. I’d be willing to help clean it up, but there’s several thousand pounds of rubble down there. Sigh.

    Comment by Dom — 12:03 am February 18, 2013 #

  40. Thanks Tw & Chris W! Scooterista, I appreciate your comments & compassion.
    .
    Valvashon, good to know some backstory on your earlier comment, but it struck me as a poverty-based stereotype.
    .
    Been There, you’ve described two “either-or” scenarios as to why I might not find the trailer park remark funny…neither fit my situation…but I’m not assuming you are a fool. :) But, my impression from your use of words like foolish and fool is that your intention is to ridicule.
    .
    Several of you have made good points about accountability. In ideal world, everyone would take responsibility for their own mistakes and messes…and have the means to do so.
    .
    But, realistically, leveling fines or penalties against this person serves no purpose…any more than leveling fines against other boaters who need to be rescued; or those who get themselves lost while skiing/hiking and take advantage of search and rescue services; or against people who refuse to evacuate when mega-storms or wildfires approach, but then need rescue or other services. I can think of numerous other examples.
    .
    Basically, my feeling is that whether a person has insurance or not, the rest of us are picking up the tab for acts of nature, bad decisions, unhealthy lifestyle choices, emergency room visits, etc. – so there is no need to single out this one individual and try to make him the poster child for accountability.

    Comment by homedk — 12:25 am February 18, 2013 #

  41. For anyone just happening onto this – we’ve received information that the sewage problem might not be related. We may not be able to get official word on its origin and scope till tomorrow so just wanted to interject that. Beach Drive Blog noted that a warning sign went up at Cormorant Cove on Saturday, though there has been no news advisory about water contamination/pollution – TR

    Comment by WSB — 9:42 am February 18, 2013 #

  42. As a child I used to free dive and explore in this
    area, those concrete supports act like strainers
    further the water has quite a bit of current dependant on tidal flow. Once the S/V is removed the debris will flush out of the area. Why people get so serious about life is a mystery to me. It’s obvious that this was an accident and depending on several factors skill level, panic factor, etc . . .Situations can and do arise. In Olympia I watched a small S/V slowly submerge over taken by water it was in the transient moorage area and the owner was not around. I don’t think the people
    who lived or worked in the area became as vociferous as most of the people on this blog. Chalk it up as LIFE you know the real things that happen between those perfect moments. If even half of you would go down and offer to help this person with their recent losses you might actually make a difference in someone’s life. Have you given any thought to HELPING this person without all the pretense. LIGHTEN UP ~ COME ON.

    Comment by Seaflyer — 9:57 am February 18, 2013 #

  43. I think what most people are upset about, including myself is that this tow was doomed to fail. That is clear to anyone with even a little bit of experience and dare I say common sense.
    I went down just before 10 am on Saturday to see if I could lend a hand, the only person around was a city of seattle spill response vehicle on stand by. Later the EPA vessel arrived on scene. The smell of fuel coming from the unattached auxiliary fuel tank sloshing around the boat was surprisingly strong given the strong wind. The duct taped transom corner was shocking. What a shame the bayliner was not taken to safeharbor days before, talk about compounding a bad situation.

    Comment by Mike — 11:25 am February 18, 2013 #

  44. Here are some photos of the sewer damage to the underside of the Harbor West Condominiums:

    http://imgur.com/a/UvlIc#0

    Notice the misaligned pipes and large portion that is missing.

    Comment by Dom — 12:11 pm February 18, 2013 #

  45. Seaflyer,

    I second your comments about how easily many WSBers seem to bash their neighbor instead of offering a solution or helping hand. It’s so easy to do from these detached little devices we interact with. I say we use the blog to better organize community support and real action instead of these cyber floggings. Cheers.

    Comment by Craig — 12:35 pm February 18, 2013 #

  46. Is it clear to see what is going on with the entire situation??? Please open your eyes! Help the person. Enough with this poor example of human compassion.
    Does anyone know how to offer help to this person without expectations of anything in return. The person could be entirely alone in this world and likely does not have to many resources to draw on at present. If you look at this entire situation it lends to my eye the fact that something is very very wrong here.

    Comment by Seaflyer — 1:16 pm February 18, 2013 #

  47. Seaflyer – there are people who HAVE offered help without expectations of anything in return, and those who have done more than offer. One of our earliest reports last week was courtesy of the nearby resident who pulled the man out of the water in the middle of the night and gave him a place to nap. The family behind Beach Drive Blog has been closely involved with all manner of help. In addition, we’ve heard in e-mail from someone trying to organize something – if it gets to the next step, we will publish a separate story with a call for participants. And those are just a few that we know about; there have been others. We have not been down there yet today ourselves and I have no idea if the boat owner is even still attempting to salvage anything further, since both boats are basically wreckage; we checked at the scene about this time yesterday and there was no one in sight. – TR

    Comment by WSB — 1:38 pm February 18, 2013 #

  48. About the sewer pipes damage -
    .
    I don’t think the trimaran ever was all the way underneath the condos, was it? How would it have fit? I don’t then it could have caught n the pipes unless it was under the building.
    .
    I wonder if those pipes may have been damaged all the way back on the huge storm of December 17 when everyone else on Beach Drive had damage. Maybe this is just the first time since then that there has been a detailed inspection under there, or maybe partial damage didn’t show earlier.

    Comment by Lura Ercolano — 2:04 pm February 18, 2013 #

  49. Does anyone know if the condo complex is aware that their sewer pipes are all messed up? (Regardless of what caused it.) There must be forty or more units in there – each flushing the toilet several times a day. That could get real bad real fast!!

    Comment by skeeter — 5:47 pm February 18, 2013 #

  50. Very little has been cleaned up. Same garbage on beaches as was yesterday morning. I would of helped if he was making any effort cleaning things up and loading his mini van and trailer for dump runs, but saw nothing of the sort. Sad

    Comment by wetone — 7:12 pm February 18, 2013 #

  51. Yes, they are aware and the city posted the park beach the other day as unsafe for going in the water. I have a lot of checking to do tomorrow – TR

    Comment by WSB — 7:29 pm February 18, 2013 #

  52. I would like to point the finger at the PORT OF SEATTLE ! they poasted it for free after the first blockhead that got it bailed . the port knew the condition of the boat before they made it someone else’s problem . also anyone who ever got within 3 ft of that boat could have known that it was beyond fixing and not safe wherever it was . also this boat has sank in its slip at shilshole in the past . how did this happen ? who is to blame ? I feel bad for not going down to tell the owner what a fool he is before this all happened

    Comment by abe — 10:27 am February 19, 2013 #

  53. I saw the “unsafe signs” Sunday, unfortunately after beachcombing. Should the city alert the people who live on the beach and don’t enter the beach via park entrance that there is raw sewage on our beach?

    Comment by Beachdriver — 12:55 pm February 19, 2013 #

  54. “Lighten up”??

    Have you seen how much damage and cost derelict and illegally handled watercraft are costing us (both environmentally and monetarily)?

    Please inform yourself and read this:
    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020216687_vesselssinkxml.html

    This incident is just a one cog in the much bigger picture. It’s “skippers” like this that quickly rack up hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in damages and removal costs…

    Comment by Tony S — 1:47 pm February 19, 2013 #

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