MOUNT DESERT — Harbormaster John Lemoine spent a lot of time the first week of this month trying to figure out what to do with a 40-foot sailboat that broke off a mooring near the head of Somes Sound during a storm the night of Nov. 30 and came to rest on the shore.
The boat is Italian flagged, and the owner was at home in Italy.
“Because of that, salvage rights and laws were in a grey area,” Lemoine said. “So, no one would step up and take it because there was a chance they would never get paid.”
He said someone with a mooring in Somes Sound had allowed the sailboat’s owner to leave it on their mooring when he returned to Italy a few months ago to try to resolve a problem with his visa. He was apparently unable to come back to Maine after the boat mishap because of the visa problem or COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Lemoine said he did a lot of research, talked with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and other state agencies and even spoke with a few salvage companies in Florida that have dealt with foreign flagged vessels.
“Under Maine state statute, I have the ability to take ownership of the boat and put a crew on it and have it removed,” Lemoine said. “Speaking with [Town Manager] Durlin [Lunt] and the town attorney, we decided that was the best course of action, for the town to step up and make this boat go away.”
He said Wid Minctons, owner and operator of the Charles Bradley barge, offered to do the job for $3,000.
“So, (on Dec. 4) we had him come and remove the boat and take it to the Hinckley Company in Southwest Harbor,” Lemoine said. “Hinckley had graciously agreed to accept the vessel, and they know that if they never get paid by the owner, they have done a good thing for Somes Sound. We were grateful for their willingness to do so.”
The boat, which has an aluminum hull, was not damaged when it went aground. It is now on Hinckley’s back lot, waiting for its owner to return.
“I think there is a better than even chance the owner is still trying to get here, and when he does, he plans on paying the town back and whatever Hinckley is going to charge him,” Lemoine said.
“I hope we never have to deal with a vessel like this again. But in the end, it all worked out.”