The New York Times
The bad economy is creating a flotilla of forsaken boats. While there is no national census of abandoned boats, officials in coastal states are worried the problem will only grow worse as unemployment and financial stress continue to rise. Several states are even drafting laws against derelicts and say they are aggressively starting to pursue delinquent owners.
“Our waters have become dumping grounds,” said Maj. Paul R. Ouellette of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “It’s got to the point where something has to be done.”
Derelict boats are environmental and navigational hazards, leaking toxins and posing obstacles for other craft, especially at night. Thieves plunder them for scrap metal. In a storm, these runabouts and sailboats, cruisers and houseboats can break free or break up, causing havoc.
Some of those disposing of their boats are in the same bind as overstretched homeowners: they face steep payments on an asset that is diminishing in value and decide not to continue. They either default on the debt or take bolder measures.
Marina and maritime officials around the country say they believe, however, that most of the abandoned vessels cluttering their waters are fully paid for. They are expensive-to-maintain toys that have lost their appeal.