NewsHillsborough County


Hillsborough works to remove sunken boats from county waterways

Posted at 7:28 PM, Aug 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-25 19:28:35-04

RIVERVIEW, Fla. -- Removing sunken boats from Tampa Bay waters is not an easy task.

On Tuesday, Hillsborough County worked to remove derelict boats in the Alafia River that leads into Tampa Bay.

But getting the removal approved is a lengthy process. Paperwork, verification, permits and coordinating teams to do it can take months.

"It's an eyesore, it's a hazard and it's not good. But you can't just go grab them and remove them," said Stephen Decatur, Hillsborough County's marine safety coordinator.

Once the removal of a derelict boat is approved, the actual removal takes hours.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office dive team went into the murky water on Tuesday to remove a 27-foot Sea Ray vessel.

They dug under the boat and installed rafts to lift the heavy water-filled boat off of the bottom of the river. Then they towed the boat to Williams Boat Ramp, drug the vessel to shore and then demolished it.

The county says they save tens of thousands of dollars when the boats are small enough for the county to uses its own resources to remove boats, instead of having to hire contract workers to do the removal.

Since June, Hillsborough has worked with the sheriff’s office to remove 13 derelict boats from county waters.

The county says just in the Alafia River area near Williams Boat Ramp, they still have four or five boats left to remove.

They say people who abandon boats face charges and heavy fines.