CORRECTION: The below story incorrectly stated that the sailboat landed on the beach over the Thanksgiving holiday. Lt. Brian McEwing, of the Lower Township Police Department, said Monday, Nov. 27, that the boat has been on the beach for several weeks.
SUNSET BEACH – A sailboat landed on the beach near a parcel owned by the state Division of Fish and Wildlife before the Thanksgiving holiday and is waiting for the OK to be moved.
The single-masted sailboat is resting in the sand on the beach between Higbee’s Beach and Sunset Beach in Lower Township, where it has been for several weeks, Lt. Brian McEwing, of the Lower Township Police Department, said.
According to McEwing, the vessel “Panache” was being delivered to the Maryland/Virginia area for an elderly, out-of-state owner when the crew encountered bad weather in the bay. As a result, the boat was beached where it now lies. He said the crew was safely removed from the boat onto the beach.
McEwing said there are currently no state laws precluding an owner from leaving a boat on the beach. However, he said, this changes if the vessel were to become an environmental hazard such as leaking fuel.
“We conferred with our code enforcement officials as to what could be done and ultimately the owner’s information was passed along to the NJ Fish and Wildlife Management personnel as they own the property where the vessel sits,” McEwing said.
He added that in most cases the vessel owner’s insurance company pays for and coordinates the safe removal of a beached vessel. McEwing said beached vessels are rare in Lower Township; however, other municipalities with many waterways, such as Cape May, have had to pass local ordinances to deter owners from abandoning vessels.
A Herald reader told the paper she was aware of the boat being beached several weeks ago, and during that time, she said, a number of items had been removed from the sailboat, including the ship’s wheel, a canvas cover in the cockpit and the solar panel on the back hatch. She said there was something else mounted to the back that was covered in canvas that seems to be missing.
A spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Protection said the owner is working to secure a company to remove the boat. The owner of Sea Tow Cape May told the Herald the company is preparing a cost estimate for whoever will be paying to remove the vessel from its current location. The boat, he said, has catastrophic damage. It is cracked at the keel and is not seaworthy, so it will have to be removed over land and demolished.
Contact the author, Christopher South, at email@example.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.