The Town of Babylon is in the market for a new bay boat, town officials said, after record-setting rains on Aug. 13 sank Bay Management 1, a vessel town workers had used for decades.
Town board members last week approved a $2,000 payment to Reynolds Towing and Marine Service of Bay Shore for refloating and towing the boat on the day of the storm from where it had been moored at Neguntatogue Creek.
"We received a warning from the weather service saying to expect a 1- to 3-inch storm," said Brian Zitani, waterways management supervisor for the town's Department of Environmental Control. "It turned out to be 12 inches -- the Weather Service kind of underestimated it."
Bay Management 1, nicknamed the Quahog, had been a workhorse for the town, Zitani said. "It was our general all-purpose boat, used for everything from our clam mariculture program to wildlife and wildfowl surveys, towing equipment, and recovery and towing of debris after Irene and Sandy."
The 25-foot, center-console vessel was equipped with an automatic bilge pump that would have easily handled three inches of rain, he said. But when four times that amount fell over a few hours, he said, "it couldn't keep up." Immersion in salt water virtually ruined the boat and its equipment, he said.
The pump likely stopped working sometime in the early morning hours after the boat's battery died, he said. Town officials learned the boat had sunk around 8 a.m.
Reynolds Towing and Marine Service raised and recovered 18 vessels that day, most of them moored between Amityville and East Islip, said the company's office manager, Rachel Okerstrom. "They were all between 16 and 25 feet," she said. "Mostly they were center consoles" with limited weather protection.
Zitani said the boat was worth about $5,000 to $10,000 when it sank but will cost up to $25,000 to replace. Town officials will put Bay Management 1's remains up for auction, he said. "If I was going to bid on it, I wouldn't bid more than $1,000," he said.
Town officials will price a new vessel in coming months, Zitani said. If environmental control workers need to get on the water before the replacement arrives, he said, they will borrow a boat from the bay constables.