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Man’s sunken boats off Oak Bay going nowhere

Two sunken boats creating an eyesore for Oak Bay residents will remain where they are for the foreseeable future. Since the boats don’t get in the way of navigation, Transport Canada has no plans to intervene, a spokeswoman said.
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A sunken powerboat and a sailboat's mast create an eyesore off Oak Bay. There are no immediate plans to remove the boats.

Two sunken boats creating an eyesore for Oak Bay residents will remain where they are for the foreseeable future.

Since the boats don’t get in the way of navigation, Transport Canada has no plans to intervene, a spokeswoman said.

C-Tow Victoria owner Tim Johnston, an Oak Bay resident, said he reported the wrecks off Oak Bay Marina in mid-March.

A powerboat is partially submerged, while only a sailboat’s mast is above water. They are tied to the same buoy and owned by the same man, he said.

“I drive past there every single day, back and forth. So I’ve been keeping an eye on the one, because it was leaning over for quite a while,” Johnston said.

Johnston, whose business is a marine-towing service, offered to refloat the boats so they can be salvaged or dumped.

He was told by the Receiver of Wrecks, an officer of Transport Canada, that the owner has 90 days to come forward, he said. The Receiver of Wrecks acts as a custodian of a “wreck,” in the absence of a rightful owner.

However, Transport Canada has since investigated and found removal unnecessary.

Johnston said he met the powerboat’s previous owner and warned him against using the buoy. About a month later, the boat washed up on Mary Tod Island, Johnston said.

The current owner salvaged the boat, with the former owner’s permission, and lived on one of the boats. Johnston said he has since been told by community members that the owner became ill, which may be why he hasn’t returned to claim them.

Johnston believes there was a small gasoline slick around the boat when it sank, but said it would have evaporated quickly. There was also likely about three to four litres of engine oil on board, but he said he hasn’t seen any oil slicks.

Johnston said he just wants to clean up the eyesore for local residents. “It just doesn’t look good,” he said.

Transport Canada will intervene if the boats become a hazard, said department spokeswoman Sau Sau Liu.

“We continue to monitor them and, should it be determined that the vessel poses a risk to navigation, the department will not hesitate to take action,” Liu said. “Individual vessel owners are responsible for their property and ensuring that it does not pose a risk to the environment or to navigation.”

asmart@timescolonist.com