Yacht sinks in Marco Island canal, joins growing abandoned vessel problem

Government, boat owners out of cash to clean up Collier’s derelict boats

A 56-foot sailboat that reportedly hasn't moved for more than a decade sinks into a Marco Island canal Monday. The yacht, owned by Andrew Thomas Patterson remains behind a home owned by he and his wife, former City Councilwoman Jeannette Patterson of Caxambas Drive, as city, county and state officials say it's the owners' responsibility to remove it.

Photo by KELLY FARRELL, Staff // Buy this photo

A 56-foot sailboat that reportedly hasn't moved for more than a decade sinks into a Marco Island canal Monday. The yacht, owned by Andrew Thomas Patterson remains behind a home owned by he and his wife, former City Councilwoman Jeannette Patterson of Caxambas Drive, as city, county and state officials say it's the owners' responsibility to remove it.

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— Abandoned, derelict vessels continue to litter Collier County waterways as state dollars are not available this year to pay for their excavation.

A 55-foot sailboat named “Victory” is slowly sinking on Marco Island after reportedly being abandoned several years ago.

Jerry Hautman, who lives across the canal from the boat, said he saw it coming.

“This thing was just rotting away and it finally sank,” Hautman said.

“Well, it’s not quite sunk yet,” Marco Police Chief Thom Carr noted, as the boat continues to take in gallons of water and went from merely listing several weeks ago to having a flooded captain’s chair on Monday.

The difference in cost for removing a partially-submerged boat compared with a fully-sunken boat can be tens of thousands of dollars. Additionally, the environmental and navigational hazards increase as the boat sinks deeper.

Abandoned boats are continuing to be found throughout the county, including one in Goodland and one that sunk in Naples last week.

Government coffers are shrinking while many private citizens’ financial constraints mount, so government agencies are still discussing what, if anything, they can do about the growing problem, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Lt. Mitts Mravic.

The owner of the 1977 vessel on Marco, Andrew Thomas Patterson, III, could not be reached for comment on Monday. He and his wife, former Marco City Councilwoman and real estate attorney Jeannette Patterson, own the home across from Hautman.

“It was bad enough to have a derelict house. Now there is a derelict boat,” Hautman said.

Marco officials said the home is in the foreclosure process and Hautman said it is not being maintained.

Carr said police investigators were able to get in touch with the Pattersons, who said on Monday afternoon they would get a mechanic out there right away.

“But we’ve heard that before. We’re waiting to see what they do,” Carr said.

He added that Sea Tow is developing a cost estimate for excavating the vessel, but it will likely cost thousands of dollars to pump out the water, tie buoys to get it afloat, get a barge in the canal and get the boat upright and out to a dump.

“The city doesn’t have the money to pay for that,” Carr said.

The City of Naples also had a 30-foot boat that sunk off its waterways last week and is contending with the same issue. Naples Assistant City Manager Roger Reinke said the city will have to contend with the abandoned, sunken ship because the owner was not stepping up to remove it and couldn’t immediately be reached.

The boat was leaking fuel and needed to be taken care of immediately, Reinke said. If the owner of the boat can’t be located, then the owner of the mooring may become responsible for the bill. Either way, the city can’t afford not to be compensated, he said.

Reinke did not immediately know the cost of the excavation, but said it was a few thousand dollars, and the name of the mooring owner was not immediately available.

Last year, FWC partnered with the Collier County Sheriff’s Office to remove derelict vessels from the waterways with state grant money.

In the past two years, Collier County has received approximately $161,000 in grant funds from the FWC, assisting in the removal of 44 vessels from county waters.

Unfortunately, said Mravic, there hasn’t been any state money budgeted for derelict vessel removal this year.

Boat owners who don’t take responsibility can be criminally charged and if they don’t reimburse the government, they can be blacklisted from being able to register a vessel in their name ever again, Mravic said.

Marco Island code enforcement officials tied Patterson’s boat to help secure it, but not much more can be done at this time, Carr said.

“We’re not going to get it out. It’s the owners’ responsibility. Unfortunately, in this case, at this point, it looks like we have an irresponsible owner,” he added.

While Marco’s and Goodland’s derelict vessels are not posing immediate navigational hazards, Mravic said they do pose environmental hazards and if enough of them litter the waterways, broken off sunken vessel parts can cause significant safety concerns.

Hautman said that in addition to the eyesore outside his back door, he is concerned about fuel leaking into the waterway. Marco Island fire officials reported that no contaminants are leaking.

“It’s a situation that should not go on,” Hautman said.

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Comments » 6

maharg writes:

I don't think Reinke is the police chief.

OldMarcoMan writes:

I think your right

dc5799 writes:

Is Patterson being fined daily by code enforcement?

OldMarcoMan writes:

Yeah RIGHT.

REALTORKaren writes:

Hi. I am the realtor representing the Patterson's property, and feel the Marco Eagle has unfairly jumped to conclusions about this vessel.

What appears to have happened, is that there was an unusually low-tide around midnight on the Monday after Easter, as corroborated by Officer Hood, and the sailboat leaned a bit in the mud, and the piling on the dock totally snapped away from the dock, pushing the boat into the canal.

I have pictures that "tell the story" of this unfortunate situation. I also have pictures that show the conclusion of this story, which the paper has not addressed, and that is that with the fast communication from Officer Hood who called me to alert me to this situation, that I went above and beyond my duties as a licensed realtor, to ensure that this situation was quickly handled, as the Pattersons were out of town visiting family for Easter.

The conclusion of the story is that I was able to salvage this boat on my own with the assistance of a couple of good friends. We worked long hours. After all the water was bailed out of the boat, the boat was again afloat in the canal around 10:00PM the same day!

I personally made sure that I checked on the boat all night long, staying awake, checking again around midnight, again at 1:30AM,again in the wee hours of the morning, using my cell phone for illumination to the seawall, as we were to expect an unusually low-tide again. All was well, we experienced the same low-tide as the previous night, the boat leaned a little bit, but did NOT lean into the canal, because it was no longer tied to a faulty piling which caused it to sink in the first place.

The Pattersons have asked me to contact the newspaper, and request a retraction of the original article that has misinformation, and left out the conclusion.

The newspaper has the obligation to go back out to the property, and take another picture of the boat standing upright and floating in the water today. This was not negligence, just an unusually low-tide on an early spring morning, where the piling snapped off of a dock, and the boat didn't have a chance to spring back up on its own as a result. The Pattersons were visiting their family during Easter week, and are still away. If anyone needs to contact them, they can call me directly at 239-404-3911 and we can speak to them at any time. I was on the phone with them constantly that day.

I don't know if a contractor would have opted to save the boat, or if they would have opted to use a crane, lift it into the yard, and chop it up into pieces and dispose of it. Obviously, one method makes more money than the other. I made the choice that day to save the boat. I live across a marina on Isles of Capri and saw the heartbreak of boat owners after Hurricane Wilma, when their boats were chopped up into pieces. I just didn't have the heart to put Victory "down" that day. My hat's off to my good friend and Good Samaritan who helped me that day.

ajm3s writes:

RealtorKaren:

Wow. Now that is a story against the backdrop of Mr. Hautman's comments. What are we to decide? More follow-up? Above and beyond what I would expect from an agent, but hey this is Marco.

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