Recovered maritime gear up for auction to recover derelict vessel costs

Items recovered from derelict vessels like this helms wheel can be bid on through the state's surplus auction site.
Items recovered from derelict vessels like this helms wheel can be bid on through the state’s surplus auction site.

Are you in the market for an old helm steering wheel or antique wheel house telegraph?

DNR is the agency chiefly responsible for removing and destroying vessels found derelict or abandoned in Washington’s waterways. Most often, the derelict or abandoned vessels we recover are destroyed. But prior to destruction, our crews are many times able to recover equipment from inside the boats that are still shipshape and Bristol fashion.

As part of our efforts to recover the considerable costs of removing and destroying derelict vessels, DNR sells those usable parts through the Department of Enterprise Services Public Surplus auction site.

An antique wheelhouse telegraph is one of the many items recovered from derelict vessels you can find on auction.
An antique wheelhouse telegraph is one of the many items recovered from derelict vessels you can find on auction.

Until Thursday evening, August 13, you can bid on items like a Helm Steering Wheel and several wheel house telegraphs.

“This helps the state receive some additional revenue while keeping some of these historic pieces out of the landfill,” said Derelict Vessel Program Manager Melissa Ferris.

More items are added as they are recovered.

Removing environmental hazards

Abandoned or derelict water craft cause any number of problems on our waterways, and it’s not just that they are unsightly. A sinking or derelict boat can pose environmental hazards.

Sometimes, abandoned craft become illegal dumping grounds for trash, and even waste oil and other nasty stuff we want to keep out of the water. Boats can pose dangers to the environment if their owners neglect them. For example, boats with leaky engines will emit polluted water into waterways when their bilge pumps kick in. Others just fill up with rainwater and sink.

Since DNR instituted the derelict vessel program in 2002, more than 580 abandoned or neglected vessels have been removed from Washington’s waterways.

A proactive program

In 2014, DNR also instituted a new program to help owners of boats in disrepair voluntarily dispose of their boats before they become problems in the water.

The Vessel Turn-In Program allows owners of vessels less than 45 feet long to get rid of their boats, if they cannot afford to dispose of it themselves.

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.

You can see a list of vessels currently pending custody action here.