Eight sunken boats lifted from area around Oak Bay Marina

Eight sunken boats lifted

Five sunken boats and big pieces of three others were pulled from the depths around Oak Bay Marina over the weekend — drawing cheers from crowds on the docks and shore as some of the wreckage emerged.

The three-day job by divers and crews aboard two barges with cranes picked all of the sunken vessels in the large bay, according to the Dead Boats Society. An underwater survey by Oak Bay Marina had earlier identified the wrecks.

Dead Boats Society spokesman Wesley Roe said it was a difficult job because divers had to place lifting straps under the vessels, many submerged in deep sediment, to securely lift them out.

Among the salvage were 45- and 50-foot sail boats, including one that had burned a decade ago, and a pair of 24-footers and a power boat.

The wreckage was lifted and loaded on barges operated by Salish Sea Industrial Services, a partnership company of the Songhees First Nation and Ralmax Group of Companies. It was taken to Ralmax’s Point Hope Maritime yard, where they will be dismantled for any salvageable goods and the hulls tested for composition and proper disposal.

The same companies picked 10 boats out of the water at nearby Cadboro Bay last winter, some underwater and others partially submerged or on shore.

Roe said sunken and leaking boats can cause significant damage to the the environment and sea life.

He said there has to be government incentives for owners with declining boats to pull them out “before we have to pick them out of the water.”

The Songhees Nation has contacts with the provincial government to pull up to 100 derelict boats. Victoria-based Dead Boats Society identifies the vessels under federal contracts and governments disperses funding to companies like Salish Sea to remove them.

Roe said crews are heading up to the Comox area next to remove derelict boats, but the arrival in early November depends on tides and weather as well as the location and condition of the vessels identified.

The companies may also scoop some vessels at Cowichan Bay.

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