Maine residents on Loud Island are worried. The concern? That its shore along the midcoast area will become a fishing vessel dumping ground.
Why? Because the 90-foot-long F/V Columbia, an old fishing schooner, sits along the shore. It’s rusted out and leans to the starboard. It’s been there for nine months. That’s when it escaped its moorings and went aground.
The Columbia has become a “tourist attraction” of sorts. Paddle and recreational boaters frequently get close to the derelict vessel.
But it’s not just one boat causing concern among locals that the area will become a vessel dumping ground for unwanted boats.
In July, an old lobster boat showed up where The Columbia had been moored. It sank the same day.
“We just don’t want people saying, ‘If your boat is sinking, bring it to the northern end of Louds Island and let it go,’” said Nate Jones, co-owner of a charter sailing sloop, the Sarah Mead.
After the lobster boat sank, an apparent vessel dumping, the owners “refloated” it, apparently in the face of fines and sanctions.
But the boat is still floating in the spot, looking quite the worse for wear.
Besides being an eyesore, The Columbia, and other vessels that sink, are environmental hazards. These hazards include diesel fuel, metal rigging and other heavy equipment.
Why, after nine months on its side, is The Columbia still there? Myriad reasons, including cost, jurisdiction and the fact that it isn’t blocking a navigable waterway.