Coast Guard takes boats out of Darrell Bay

Save for a former sunken tug, all boats affected by Squamish windstorm removed

Almost three weeks after a windstorm tore through town, the Coast Guard has removed several boats from Darrell Bay.

On Jan. 9, crews removed the Zena, La Rata Bastarda, the Sea Angel II and two small pleasurecraft from the area, said Coast Guard spokesperson Kiri Westnedge.

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Meanwhile, however, the J.S. Polhemus, a 79-foot former tugboat, has drifted even further down to the bottom of Howe Sound.

Westnedge said the vessel is now deeper below the surface. Previously it had dropped 100 feet underwater after the Dec. 20 windstorm.

“After deploying divers and after multiple dives, it has been determined that the ex-tug J.S. Polhemus has now shifted to a depth of 300 feet,” wrote Westnedge in an email.

“We continue to be on scene and are monitoring the release of a small amount of hydrocarbons.”

Hydrocarbons are a compound commonly found in fuel.

A containment boom that was meant to stop the spread of leaking fuel from the Polhemus was also taken away.

“At this point it’s so small that a boom is no longer effective,” Westnedge said in a follow-up call.

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A photo taken Jan. 7 shows several boats in Darrell Bay, as well as a containment boom set around the area where the J.S. Polhemus was believed to have sank. - Steven Chua

Local conservationist John Buchanan said that a sunken sailboat was among the vessels taken away.

Its owner, Steen Larsen, had promised to remove it before Jan. 1, but it remained in the area at least a week into the new year.

Removing the next vessel, the Zena, a former fishing boat, will hopefully reduce the pollutants in the area. The windstorm tossed it onto the rocks, partially submerging the vessel.

In the days following, Buchanan reported there was a strong smell of fuel, and the vessel’s port-side fuel tank appeared to be three-quarters full.

Before the boat was taken away, Larsen said the La Rata Bastarda appeared to be in functioning condition after the storm. But Buchanan said it was tied up by a single rope and was in danger of being cast adrift if bad weather returned.

There weren’t any reports of damage to the Sea Angel II during the storm. However, authorities were inspecting the boat on Jan. 9 and it’s now gone.

Larsen previously told The Chief he owns the La Rata Bastarda and the sailboat. He said that he doesn’t own the Polhemus or the Zena, but was looking after them for his friends.

It’s unclear who owns or has been responsible for the Sea Angel II.

When previously asked about the boats’ ownership, the Coast Guard wasn’t able to say to whom the boats were legally registered.

Earlier this week, the Coast Guard was on scene in Darrell Bay with the B.C. Ministry of Environment, Transport Canada, the Ministry of Forests, the RCMP, and the Squamish First Nation.

 

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