Sunken boat owner says he can't move vessels

VIDEO: Bellingham man speaking out after neighbors call his boats an eyesore

FERNDALE, Wash. — The man whose family owns two boats that are sinking in the North Sound is speaking out Monday night.

Neighbors call these boats derelict. The owner says they are anything but.

Those who live in Sandy Point can likely be forgiven for thinking of these as derelict boats.

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But the man whose family owns these vessels begs to differ.

Derelict boats?  "No, not by state standards," insists Craig Kovacevich.

Kovacevich stood at the dock where the two boats have been moored for years. The one that belonged to his late father sank three years ago. His boat began going under 10 days ago.

He says the vessels still have value and are not eligible for the state to remove them.

"Being that it's not a navigable waterway," he said, "they're not slated to remove them because they're on private property."

Last week, the Coast Guard oversaw the placing of absorbent booms to collect the oil leaking from his vessel. Angry neighbors say more should be done.

"It's a community eyesore," said Howard Gilbert, whose house overlooks the pier. "It's a nightmare."

But Kovacevich says it has been a nightmare for him, too.

"And I tried twice to get it up and with no success," he said. "It's stuck in the mud now. And we need a crane and a barge to come in here and help get it up."

But he insists he can't do that until this inlet is dredged, a project that has been in the works for years.

"It needs to be dredged," he said. "It is a hazard to navigation as it is right now.  We've lost a lot of depth at the entrance. It's unsafe. It's an unsafe harbor to come into."

According to the state's website, these boats do indeed meet the criteria for removal.

The Lummi Tribe and the company that oversees the community have tried to have them removed.

Now, they are hoping Craig's late father's estate will take care of them.

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