Plan in place for sunken vessels

Transport Canada issues 90-day holding period for two boats partially submerged offshore from Oak Bay

There is a plan for a pair of sunken boats off Beach Drive.

They will stay, settled and soaked adjacent to the Oak Bay Marina, on their registered buoy for 90 days in case the registered owner returns.

“Transport Canada typically wants a 90-day waiting period before they’ll destroy them or hand them over to someone else,” said Tim Johnston, owner of C-Tow Victoria.

The bulk of his company’s work is towing boats in distress, much like a tow truck for the ocean when someone runs out of fuel or suffers other debilitating fates. On top of that they do salvage work, often for insurance companies, in this case for Transport Canada as the vessels are not insured.

The two boats are moored to an official registered buoy, but the owner hasn’t been seen in a very long time. Locals say he became too ill to live aboard his boat any longer.

When the boats sank in tandem last month, C-Tow offered some options which included towing and storage at Oak Bay Marina, or in Sooke or Sidney for a certain period of time. The company’s currently been tasked to leave them as is for the 90-day holding period. Then they’ll refloat the boats and revisit the option of towing to land, such as at Cattle Point, for destruction or to a marina for salvage.

“There’s at least a plan in place,” Johnston said. “In this case Transport Canada is sort of taking responsibility for it … in a way it falls within their jurisdiction.”

Refloating boats and pulling them off beaches is his business, but as an Oak Bay resident with extended family in the community, Johnston also feels a more moral obligation.

“A few things I think are solutions is mandatory insurance on all boats,” he said.”Then there comes a point where insurance isn’t going to insure boats because they’re too much of a liability… if a boat’s so far gone it can’t be insured the owner has to be responsible.”

He said in a perfect world there would be more enforcement of registration in populated areas.

“There should be a paper trail and [you should] be able to find the owner,” Johnston said.