Sunken Drayton Harbor ship could be a safety hazard

Published on Wed, Jul 1, 2009 by Sonia Hurt

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Drayton Harbor will be safer for water sports this year due to the efforts of a handful of local folks and businesses.

When the Washington State Department of Natural Resources removed dozens of derelict creosote pilings from Drayton Harbor earlier this year in an effort to remove toxic chemicals from our waters they inadvertently left a hazard behind. Jimmy Johnson of the Semiahmoo Yacht Club watched as the pilings were removed.

“I couldn’t believe that they pulled the pilings that marked the wreck,” he said.

According to local sailor Mark Gumley the wreck, located in the southwest portion of Drayton Harbor, is what’s left of the 135-foot tug Prestige.

In the late 1980s Gumley towed the tug into the harbor at the captain’s request.

“The captain stripped it … and the top house came off in a windstorm in 1990.”

Today the wreck sits on the bottom just below the surface, waiting to emerge with the receding tides. Therein lays the problem.

Johnson and Semiahmoo Yacht Club member, Doug Romano, recognized how dangerous the unmarked wreck could be to water-skiers, wave runners and other boaters.

“I personally wouldn’t want to see someone crash, especially kids,” Johnson said. Romano, who describes the deteriorating hull of the wreck as “razors” in the water, took pictures of the wreck at low tide and sent them to Hoyt Hatfield, a fellow yacht club member and Coast Guard Auxiliary member.

Hatfield agreed that it posed a serious danger but added that the Department of natural resources and Coast Guard weren’t likely to do anything in the near future.

Johnson and Romano then approached Debbie Morley, manager of the Blaine West Marine Express. Johnson said Morley had contacted the BP Cherry Point Refinery and persuaded them to help.

A plan soon developed. BP provided two hazard warning buoys, West Marine provided chain, Plover captain Richard Sturgill contributed two anchors and the staff of the Semiahmoo Marina provided the work boat and labor.
The Semiahmoo Yacht Club provided supervision and documentation.

Now the wreck is clearly marked and anyone using that part of Drayton Harbor can easily steer clear of it.
When Morley was asked why everyone pitched in, she responded that it was “Just to keep someone from getting hurt.”