Post-Ian grace period to claim derelict boats in SWFL ends Tuesday

Published: Updated:

Tuesday was meant to be the last day to get all of the boats out of marinas on Fort Myers Beach before they are destroyed and taken to a landfill.

However, if you’ve been in the area, you might know that’s close to impossible.

WINK News spent time with Jean Beauvoir, owner of owner of Gulfshore Strong Salvage and Restoration. He has gone out to sea, digging up derelict boats and towing them back to shore.

Boats stuck in mangroves or washed up into yards, and even boats that were homes, Beauvoir said he approaches every boat knowing there is a story behind each one.

“Thousands and thousands of boats that are out of there, and then once you find them, you have to figure out whose they are,” Beauvoir said.

“This boat belonged to a man named George. He lived on this boat for years. This was George’s home. After the hurricane, this is what he has left. He’s been sleeping in his van. Sleeping in a van. Literally. Clothes hanging and sleeping in a van,” Beauvoir said.

Frank Colaco tells WINK News he has been waiting almost two months for the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to take a huge boat out of his front yard after the vessel nearly struck his home during the hurricane. He says he is tired of looking at it every day and willing to do whatever it takes to get rid of it.

Waves threaten to send a capsized boat through the back of a house during Hurricane Ian. Credit: WINK News

“In the midst of all of this is this boat, floating upside down, aiming dead center for the back of my home, and I’m praying that it wouldn’t hit the back of the house or come through my living room window,” Colaco said.

FWC says it has assessed more than 3,000 vessels displaced by Hurricane Ian, and more than 500 of those have been assessed as derelict. That number may change as more boats are discovered and removed by owners or insurance companies. FWC is accepting waivers for removal and destruction, meaning owners will not be charged for any removal costs. So far, around 50 waivers have been received from affected boat owners in Lee County alone.

Boats are left scattered on land near a marina after Hurricane Ian. Credit: WINK News

“We’re just hoping to hopefully get this off of our property at some time, and possibly the owner could have some peace of mind knowing that it’s here,” Colaco said.

If you have a derelict boat in your yard and not on state waters, FWC says you should call the debris clean-up hotline at (850) 488-5600. Be prepared to provide the boat’s registration number, location and a detailed description. Waivers will be offered throughout the month of November.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.