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Submerged sailboat could cost City of Vancouver big bucks

Vancouver could be on the hook for thousands of dollars in salvage fees if the owners of a submerged sailboat in Vancouver's False Creek can't remove or fix their vessel.

The Cheng-Shi has been stuck on the rocks near Charleson Park in False Creek for a week

A submerged boat in Vancouver's False Creek could wind up costing the city thousands of dollars to clean up. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

The City of Vancouver could be on the hook for thousands of dollars in salvage fees if the owners of a submerged sailboat in Vancouver's False Creek can't remove or fix their vessel. 

According to an emailed statement from the Vancouver Park Board, the Cheng-Shi has been on the rocks near Charleson Park for a week.

"In this particular case wind was not a factor, but rather poor choice of mooring location," said the statement.

"The vessel is cement with a hole in it and has been submerged since last Friday. At the moment the owners are attempting to have it removed."

If the owners can't deal with the situation themselves, they'll have to surrender the submerged boat to the City of Vancouver, and park board staff will have to arrange to have it removed.

The City of Vancouver will be forced to cover the cost of salvage.

Expensive job

Rhys Davies is a captain and owner of Blue Flasher, a salvage company that has done lots of work for the city before.

"[It's] more expensive to salvage a cement boat like that — in the situation that it's in — than a fibreglass, or wood, or aluminum boat. Much more," he said.

Davies said the job may require a barge and crane if the Cheng-Shi can't be refloated. That's a process that could run anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000.

"That's not the only option. There's other ways of doing it. I know how to do it, but I'm not going to go in there and do it unless somebody pays for it," he said. 

Davies said the alternative — a trade secret — could bring the price down to $8,000.

Boats don't last forever

He said the owners have been in touch with him.

"The couple that owns it — it's not insured, I know that for sure," he said. "I believe they came down from Quadra Island the night before, sailed down, and tied up in False Creek there."

"You know, anchor it properly, it's as simple as that. I mean, people forget that the anchor is probably the most important part of the boat," the octogenarian captain said.

While Davies doesn't seem sympathetic to the hapless boat owners, he said it was no surprise the vessel had wound up on shore.

"Would it be true that every single boat that's ever been built or will be built will sink? Either that or rot on the beach," he said.

"I've never seen a boat that's lasted forever, have you?"