NewsRegion South PinellasSt Petersburg


Couple's sunken boat poses danger to bay area boaters

Marine salvage company working to recover it
Posted at 8:51 PM, Mar 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-05 01:31:31-05

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A danger hidden in the water. ABC Action News first told you about a young couple who spent their life savings on a dream sailboat only to lose it all when it sank. But what is left of it is a big danger to other boaters.

It was suppose to be a dream come true for a happy couple. But in a moment’s notice, their peaceful sailing along John’s Pass ended with their life’s savings below water.

“It was human error, he should have been inside channel markers," said Joseph Moore, "He was in an unmarked area. It happens to all of us.”

As owner of a marine salvage company, Disco Volante Marine LLC, Moore has seen many boat wrecks. He says John's Pass can be especially tricky. Storms often shift the channel leading to the docks and unforgiving sandbars wait to trap boats. The couple hired him to dig out their boat.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, we’re looking at a 12," Moore said of the job's difficulty.

Moore's team has to dive down six times to bring up the pieces. Every dive they have to find the boat again. A state agency says he can mark off the sunken boat, but there's one problem that has Moore avoiding that option.

“I’m responsible if someone wraps a rope around their propeller and damages their vessel,” said Moore.

Plus, a packed John’s Pass busy with tourists and boaters forces him to work strictly at night.

“It could be anywhere from a couple scratches on your boat to a bent prop or it could actually bring you down," Moore said.

The boat shallow enough to be a major threat to boaters. While on the job, Moore even rammed his own boat into it by accident.

“I cracked the skag and I have a big nice two inch gouge in the fiberglass," Moore said.

Moore is charging the couple $5,000 for the cleanup. He knocked down the price by over a thousand dollars after hearing their story. Now, he’s warning other boaters to not follow their footsteps. Instead, he says, follow sonar and channel markings.