Turn in your boat while it can still float

Contractors destroy an old boat turned in as part of DNR's new Vessel Turn-In Program. Photo by DNR.
Contractors destroy an old boat turned in as part of DNR’s new Vessel Turn-In Program. Photo by DNR.

Is that dream project to renovate an old boat not working out?

Though old boats are enticing, their repair often requires more time and money than anticipated and too often end up sinking or washing up on beaches.

As the manager of Washington’s public waterways, DNR spends a great deal of time and money recovering dream boat projects gone awry.

Since 2002, DNR has removed 546 abandoned or neglected vessels from Washington waterways through its Derelict Vessel Removal Program. Another 155 boats are tagged as “vessels of concern.” In 2014 alone, the agency removed 40 vessels.

Removal of the sunken Helena Star from Tacoma’s Hybelos Waterway last summer cost $1,158,608 and required special funding from the legislature.

To offset the often-extensive costs of removing derelict vessels after they sink or run aground, and to prevent threats to water quality and public safety, DNR instituted a new program this year that gives new — and legal – options to owners whose boats may become derelict or abandoned: the Vessel Turn-In Program.

The program launched May 1 and, since then, DNR has disposed of 19 boats, with another five slated for disposal.

A tow truck pulls an old boat turned into DNR's new program from a forest. Photo by DNR.
A tow truck pulls an old boat turned into DNR’s new program from a forest. Photo by DNR.

“We have removed boats from private marinas, backyards and the water,” said Tammy Robbins who manages the program for DNR. “We have received lots of positive feedback from people grateful to have help disposing of boats they would not be able to get rid of on their own.“


Washington’s legislature in 2013 allotted DNR $400,000 to launch and fund the pilot program over the 2013-2014 and 2015-2016 biennia.

“We have been getting a steady stream of applications in every month, and I expect it will continue to increase as word gets out,” Robbins said.

DNR works with boatyards and contractors throughout the state to destroy boats taken in through the program.

Owners do not receive payments for their boats, but disposal is free for those who qualify.

How do I qualify?

Your boat may be eligible for the program if:

  • you are a Washington resident,
  • you own a boat that is 45-feet or less in length,
  • your boat is in poor condition or no longer functional, and
  • you want to dispose of your boat safely and legally but do not have the resources to do so.

If you don’t qualify, but still want to get rid of your boat, you still have options.

Some charities accept motorboats, sailboats, personal watercraft, and other vessels, as tax-deductible donations. Boatyards and salvage companies may be able to dispose of the boat for a fee.

To see if your boat may be eligible, check DNR’s web page or contact the Vessel Turn-In Program at: dvrp@dnr.wa.gov or 360-902-BOAT (2628).

Read how the Vessel Turn-In Program has helped one community in this story, published in the Islands Sounder.

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