Last week we reported that the administrator of the California's Abandoned Watercraft Abatement Fund told us
that San Francisco does not participate in the state program. This came as shocking news to Fisherman's Wharf wharvinger Hedley Prince. After all, not only had he filled out the grant application to dispose of nine rotting, sinking, abandoned ships -- they state said "Yes." Prince was awarded $15,000 to remove and dispose of the boats, and, lo, it was done.
Mary Thomas of the state's Department of Boating and Waterways
now tells us that the confusion was caused by San Francisco being recorded as "Port of San Francisco" on the state's list. So, yes, we are legit. And, no, the money won't have to be given back.
So far in fiscal 2009, the state has shelled out $311,000 to dispose of 70 sunken or partially sunken abandoned boats around California (and $111,000 in contracts with the City of Santa Barbara Harbor and Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department are still open). So while San Francisco's tally of nine boats represents a healthy chunk of the state's abandoned watercrafts, it turns out that the real aquatic graveyards of the Bay Area are to the north and northeast.
This year, Contra Costa County has asked for the state's assistance to remove 40 derelict ships. Last year, when the state funded 90 percent of the removal costs for 157 boats, 61 were in Contra Costa. None were in San Francisco.
"The Delta is a huge dumping ground for vessels," notes Thomas.
But it's not the only place to ditch your sinking ship. Marin County's Richardson Bay also reported 40 abandoned ships this year after recording 45 last year. San Francisco's Prince says his counterpart in Richardson Bay, Bill Price, has "a full-time job" removing derelict ships.
And while none of the ships presents the logistical nightmares of the Wenonah, the World War II-era tugboat that sank off Treasure Island last week
, Thomas does recall some doozies.
A few years back, an 83-foot cabin cruiser sank in San Joaquin County. Removing that hulk cost $47,850.