Portsmouth, Va. – A boat has been slowly sinking to the bottom of the Elizabeth River near Portsmouth Naval Medical Center.
“It looks terrible. The glass is busted out in it. I mean, when the tide comes up, you can see the stuff inside the boat just floating around,” say Portsmouth resident Erin Coppersmith.
For four months, the boat has been left to slowly sink in the river. It’s now partially submerged, resting on the bottom of the river, across from the hospital.
“It’s unsightly and I know all these folks that live here, they’re tired of seeing it,” Coppersmith says. “When I went by it, it smells because it’s just been sitting like that.”
About two months ago, Coppersmith says another boat was tied up next to it.
NewsChannel 3 contacted local and state agencies to find out why the damaged boat has been allowed to stay there so long.
According to the Coast Guard, it was anchored in that spot at the end of May after the owner stopped paying his dock fees and was kicked out of the marina where he’d been keeping it.
The Coast Guard checked to make sure it wasn’t polluting the water or causing any hazards. Since it’s not, there’s nothing they can do to have it removed.
But Portsmouth Police can.
A spokesperson for their department says officers contacted the owner in June and he was served with a notice to remove it.
Sometime after that though, police say the owner was able to get it upright, and as long as it’s floating, he’s not required to move it.
But the boat slowly sank again, so they issued another notice. Police say that cycle has gone on for a while.
“I’ve seen a guy jump off the dock across the way with his cooler and he’ll swim across, stay on it for three days, pump it out, and then swim back. And then, of course, it’s right back to the same way it is now,” Coppersmith says.
But it won’t be allowed much longer.
According to police, the city attorney took the boat’s owner to court. And now a judge has ordered him to have it removed by October 5th, whether it’s floating or not.