A resident vessel of Lakebay Marina keeled over and sank in the shallow waters of  Von Geldern Cove on its way home Oct. 14. Courtesy U.S. Coast Guard

A 58-foot recreational powerboat was left aground in the rocky shallows of Von Geldern Cove—known locally as Joe’s Bay—near Home after taking on water in the early hours of Oct. 14.

The Key Peninsula Fire Department water rescue crew responded to the scene at approximately 2:21 a.m. together with rescue vessels from Anderson Island and the U.S. Coast Guard. The tide height was less than 2 feet above the charted depth at the time, though it is unclear whether the vessel ran aground or began leaking first.

The two crew members on the vessel were taken aboard the Pierce County Fire rescue vessel and returned to Lakebay Marina in Mayo Cove, a half mile to the south, where the stricken vessel was reportedly headed and is usually moored.

The state Department of Ecology responded to the scene later the same day and pumped out diesel fuel, plugged the air vents and deployed an oil containment boom surrounding the vessel to absorb oil or fuel residue.

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the Departments of Natural Resources and Ecology are working with the owner to refloat or otherwise move the vessel. Attempts to refloat the vessel have so far been unsuccessful, according to the DNR.

Troy Wood, program manager of the DNR Derelict Vessel Removal Program, said, “The DVRP does not have the funds to remove the vessel despite our willingness to do the removal.”

“The DVRP works very hard to protect all state owned aquatic lands, but the DVRP is out of funds until the next budget is passed next biennium (July 2019),” Wood said. “When a vessel’s situation, priority and threat make it necessary for removal and the DVRP has the funds to accomplish the removal, the DVRP must follow RCW 79.100.040 in gaining custody… It takes 30 days to gain legal custody. The DVRP cannot seize private property without due process and cannot immediately touch a vessel unless it is an imminent threat to human safety and the environment, in accordance with RCW 79.100.040(3).”

The Department of Ecology encourages the public to report any spills or suspected spills of toxic material to 360-407-6300 or 800-258-5990 after 5 p.m. and on weekends.

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