PUSH TO REMOVE WRECKS
INLET DEBRIS UNDER SCRUTINY:
POOR old Maggie Mae sleeps in the mud and what will become of her now?
The ferro-concrete yacht, moored on Dickson Inlet for just about as long as anyone can remember, slipped beneath the surface last week. It followed that lengthy wet spell that we had, and it’s possible she drank her fill, and then more, and gravity won out over buoyancy.
There’s no shortage of wrecks in the inlet, of course.
Old salt Billy ‘‘Boomer’’ McNeil says there may be around 10 sunken wrecks, but who really knows. Another old yachtie at the Yacht Club last week swore he knows of about 20.
As it happens, it was just a couple of days after Maggie Mae foundered that the local committee (Douglas LMAC) appointed by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority to help guard the health of the reef and waterways took a survey visit up Dickson Inlet.
One of its aims was to assess the wrecks problem in the Inlet.
Douglas LMAC chair Robert Hanan, of Whyanbeel, was part of the group on the survey trip, along with Adam Smith, the regional manager/director of GBRMPA.
The sinking of the Maggie Mae merely added to the problem of sunken, or abandoned vessels, in the waterways, which have become a potential navigation and pollution hazard. Mr Hanan said it was quite a problem. Douglas LMAC had been in discussions with Maritime Safety Qld over the problem. Off its own bat, Douglas LMAC had compiled a report for MSQ.
The LMAC reported there were 10 wrecks or other vessels that needed attention, including the Maggie Mae.
Mr Hanan said the report was delivered to MSQ, which subsequently put a request to government for money for a clean up, which was denied. Which brings us to the present. ‘‘They [MSQ] have done nothing with our report,’’ Mr Hanan said. ‘‘We did not request funding – we initially just wanted MSQ to establish officially that the vessels were abandoned. We were concentrating on derelict boats that were still afloat as the removal of these is much cheaper than those already on the bottom.’’
Where boats are abandoned, there are processes by which the authorities can claim them and then plan their removal.
‘‘The trouble is, sometimes Port Douglas is the last stop for vessels on their last legs,’’ Mr Hanan said.
Where an owner can be identified it is normally up to them to remove the problem.
The boating world, alas, is not so simple – problem boats are often accompanied by owners who no longer want to be owners, and whose who finances are on the rocks. There’s no more money for the boat. Or when it sinks, towards the salvage operation.
‘‘Salvage of boats can be very expensive,’’ Mr Hanan said. ‘‘Hawaii has a good system. Over there, a boat owner has to demonstrate once a year that the vessel is capable of putting out to sea.’’