Create Artificial Reefs With Derelict Boats

Derelict CatamaranI would support spending some money to help clean up derelict boats:

Many people can't afford the luxury of having a boat anymore, and it's causing problems all across the country: America's waterways are becoming dumping grounds filled with boats just left there by their owners.

But somebody has to clean that mess up. And taxpayers are now footing the bill.

"Early Show" consumer correspondent Susan Koeppen reports derelict boats are becoming an all-too-familiar sight along the nation's coastlines. Boats, for one reason or another, are being abandoned by their owners.

Derelict Sailboat 
Bill Sprauge, of Fla., knows abandoned boats are more than just an eyesore and environmental threat -- they pose a serious threat to boaters.

Sprague and his wife were boating near their home outside West Palm Beach, Fla., when they hit a huge chunk of a derelict boat.

"All of a sudden with were launched completely out of the water," Sprague said. "We were completely airborne. And I knew I hit something substantial."

Sprague estimates there are about 20 abandoned boats in the waterways he travels.

And in Florida, Koeppen reported, it's estimated thousands of boats have been dumped.

Lt. David Dipre, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said, "Derelict vessels are becoming more numerous.

Experts say with the souring economy an increased number of boats are being set free and left to sink, Koeppen said. Owners are finding it easier, she said, to abandon ship than pay the high price of maintenance. Some are committing insurance fraud by cashing in on their policies, after sinking their own boats, Koeppen said.

I suppose it is too late to go begging for government bailout money, but it certainly would help to clean up some of the uglier derelict vessels that are out there. To protect shorelines, artificial reefs could be created with derelict vessels, sunk in deliberate locations.

Derelict Vessel, Grand TurkWe've been stuck in Miami now for a week, and I'm already tired of seeing Miami's poverty near the water up close. The Admiral Hassenpfeffer is a fast moving ocean vessel. Sitting in the marina invites gawkers and people taking photographs of the unusual "dazzle ship" paint job we're sporting these days. Now, it's bad enough when we're in certain parts of the Caribbean to see the kinds of derelict vessels that sit flat-bottomed in shallow water. It's quite another thing to see it in this country, and it frustrates me.

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