BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Authorities on Tuesday were trying to solve a floating mystery on Long Island.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, two ghost ships were found tied to public docks with no identification in the past week. And the wave of abandoned boats could sink town budgets and end up hitting your wallet.
The words “dump me” were spelled out in what appeared to be duct tape on a derelict 34-foot cabin cruiser, which was parked at a Babylon town marina. The 1970s-era vessel was left filled with debris, its paint was peeling and the engine was broken, WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported.
Its captain abandoned ship.
“It’s cheap. It’s easy,” said Amity Harbor boater Corey Scotti. “They drop it off there and disappear.”
“They don’t care. You know what? Dump it at Tanner Park, let the taxpayers pay it – it’s just disgusting, you know, it really is terrible,” said boater Audry Buechner.
The “dump me” boat was not the first ghost ship, or the last. Town of Babylon officials said their waters have become a dumping ground – abandoned boats sometimes left adrift or tied to buoys in the Great South Bay.
“They cut out the hull, the cabinet, they take the anchor line,” said Babylon Town Deputy Public Safety Commissioner Pat Farrell.
The latest was a 28-foot Chris-Craft, abandoned at Venetian Shores Park. The boat was stripped of its name, its hull identification number was rubbed off, and anything of value was ripped out.
“They dump them because they’re junk and they’re not worth anything. Nobody gives gold away for free,” Farrell said. “These are all garbage that have to be at the taxpayers’ expense to get disposed of.”
Boats are made mostly of fiberglass and wood that rots, unlike cars that when junked can still have some value because of their metal.
A dozens floating clunkers each year are leaving taxpayers on the hook – it costs up to $5,000 each to dispose of them legally.
Farrell explained that the town has to get the oil and gas out of the boats, get them out of the water, and then haul them to a landfill. Boat captains said the owners do not have the means to do all that themselves.
“Most guys, they don’t have a lift to get them out of the boat, onto land, into a trailer, and to bring to a boat yard will cost you $4,000 maybe; maybe more,” said charter boat captain Dennis Myers.
“Why would you pay to take all the fuel tanks out of it, and the batteries, and dump it properly and pay money?” said Amity Harbor boater Michael Bates. “Just dump it here.”
Scavengers are now stripping the abandoned boats of what little stainless steel, mahogany and teak is left.
Public Safety has launched a search for the owners on social media, and may install cameras at town marinas. But that too will cost taxpayers.
If caught, the owner of an abandoned boat can face hefty fines and even criminal charges.