Organizations work to clean up abandoned vessels from coastal North Carolina waterways

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – Along the North Carolina coast, you can find hundreds of boats that are storm-ravaged or left behind. But thanks to the efforts of several organizations from across the state, that number will soon grow smaller.

“It’s a hazard and they’ve been here for a good while so a lot of property owners will be glad to get them out,” says Larry Denning, Carolina Beach harbor master.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, NC Division of Coastal Management and local governments are working with marine contractors to remove 12 abandoned vessels from the New Hanover County area.

“It’s really exciting and gives us a chance to have a really direct and meaningful impact on our coastal waters and habitats,” says Ted Wilgis, the Coastal Federation’s marine debris program manager.

The Coastal Federation says it’s leading the effort after receiving state funding and money from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s marine debris program.

“It’s a lot of money that doesn’t have to come out of local governments budgets it’s fairly expensive to remove these vessels,” Wilgis says. “Anywhere from about $450 per linear foot so an average sailboat can cost anywhere from $5,000- $15,000 depending on how hard they are to remove.”

Once these 12 boats are removed, the Coastal Federation says it hopes to remove another 40 by the end of 2024. Since 2021, the organization’s removed 110 boats and NCWRC has removed more than 200 vessels.