A 40-foot sailboat that sank off Oak Bay Marina on Monday has about 100 litres of diesel on board that is leaking into the bay.
The company tasked with recovering the vessel said this is the second time the owner has had a boat sink due to “poor maintenance and neglect.”
C-Tow Victoria and the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary responded to a call Monday and found the boat submerged, with just a few metres of mast sticking above the surface.
Jim Johnston, owner of C-Tow Victoria, said a boom was quickly set up to contain the fuel spill.
“Right from the get-go, it was leaking quite a bit of diesel,” Johnston said. “There were booms in place within half an hour of it going down.”
The boat was made with ferrocement, which makes it heavy and as a result, it sank within a few hours.
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Ferrocement is applied over layer of metal mesh, used to construct thin, hard structures in many shapes such as hulls for boats.
“This happened quite quick, in a matter of three hours, from when someone noticed the bow was pointing down to when it was just the mast sticking up [from the surface],” Johnston said.
Steve Sinclair, manager for the Oak Bay Marine Group, said the boat’s owner was not paying mooring fees to the marina, but it was moored in the bay.
Johnston said the sailboat was not insured. That means the owner will have to foot the bill for raising the vessel and the cleanup costs, which could be tens of thousands of dollars.
“If he had insurance the boat would have been raised by now,” Johnston said.
Johnston said the boat is owned by an elderly man who “had a very similar boat sink in the same location in very similar circumstances a few years ago.”
The other boat was never recovered. It’s unclear if the owner had to pay any fees or fines for that incident.
Johnston said the owner was not living on the boat at the time, but had lived there previously.
This morning, the Coast Guard Auxiliary and environmental management officers are expected to assess how much fuel is spilling and how to proceed.
The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre told the owner he is responsible for removing the boat, which poses a navigation hazard for other boats.
In April 2014, Oak Bay police, RCMP and Transport Canada teamed up to target abandoned boats and illegal moorings in the waters off the Oak Bay Marina.
During that operation, an RCMP marine vessel and a barge carrying a backhoe scooped up illegal mooring buoys and towed two abandoned vessels to shore, including a half-submerged motorboat and a sailboat.