An old and battered 40-foot-long wooden fishing boat that washed up on Jones Beach State Park last week and was abandoned by its owner has won a temporary last-minute reprieve, officials said.
Instead of being broken up and hauled off as initially planned, the Roger Ventures will be inspected to see if it might be reused by a state agency, said George Gorman, Long Island regional director, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.
On June 9, "the Captain Leroy III was towing the Roger Ventures, and they had to drop the tow; they were disabled," said Lt. Alaina Fagan, a Coast Guard spokeswoman. She added both the Fire Island and Jones Beach Coast Guard stations responded.
"And they were unable to tow the vessel, because there was nothing to hook a towline to the vessel, and the Roger Ventures remained adrift and grounded," probably the next day, she said.
The parks department was notified the vessel had come ashore near Field 6 on June 11, Gorman said. Though the Roger Ventures displays a Canadian registration number, that country's Vessel Registration Office could not trace its ownership.
The Coast Guard hired a contractor to remove about 700 gallons of oily water, which possibly came from pumping out bilges, which was stowed in containers aboard the vessel.
"Due to high tides, we had to hold off on removing the remaining product, because the state of the vessel was inaccessible," Fagan said. Another 350 gallons or so were hauled away later, at low tide.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation inspected the boat and said it found no evidence of leaking fuel oil or any other substances. Environmental conservation officers launched an investigation and interviewed William Gatchell, whom they identified as the boat's owner, and issued a ticket for illegal disposal of solid waste, which can carry a penalty of $1,500 to $15,000 and/or up to 15 days in jail. The boat itself is considered solid waste, according to the DEC.
The Coast Guard classified the Roger Ventures' misadventure as a "marine casualty," Fagan said. Her service is investigating what caused the towline to fail, she said, explaining any additional details would have to be obtained through the Freedom of Information Act process. A FOIA request for the files was not immediately answered.
The fate of the Roger Ventures should soon be decided, Gorman said.
"We will have a determination in the next few days and know whether we can try to salvage it or whether we're going to demolish it," he said. The parks department would seek to recover any costs incurred if it is not economical to refloat and repair it, Gorman said, adding, "We need to get it off the beach."