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Seaworthy a Worthy Goal



The well-researched article "That Sinking Feeling" (March 24) cites a number of issues regarding past and future sinkers, vessels which are derelict by nature of their age, construction and lack of active maintenance. Most of those cited are biodegradable, wood or steel. Irrespective, the vessel's owners must be held responsible when a hull's death occurs, as surely they will.

While the harbor does not require insurance, it also does not require a bond ensuring the owners will reimburse the harbor for any loss, physical, personal and environmental. If you're a responsible boat owner, you'd likely choose not to dock your boat next to an uninsurable boat. And the statement that harbor authorities don't want to "tick-off" boat owners is beyond astounding. Would that the CHP felt the same way about my driving habits!

The article mentions the term "seaworthy" but not in the context of actual "seaworthiness." A boat found by the U.S. Coast Guard inspector to be without lifejackets and fire extinguishers is not necessarily unseaworthy, but it is unsafe. More than once the article notes a vessel is afloat and is therefore seaworthy. The ability to float is only one measure of seaworthiness. A maritime attorney in court can give one who asserts the term an in-service on the meaning. Most marine surveyors of my acquaintance would not use that term in a report, no matter how well-equipped and maintained the vessel was. It can be fit for sea and service, but unless manned by a competent captain and crew, it will not be "seaworthy."

It's time the harbor get serious about preventing environmental damage by holding owners responsible for their derelict boats before major damage to the bay occurs.

Lee Bartkowski, Fortuna

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