The remains of the partially disassembled MV Pursepa bear little resemblance to the boat that ran aground nearly a month ago in the mouth of Campbell River.

Abandoned boat slowly disintegrates in estuary

Individual vessel owners are responsible for their property and for ensuring it does not pose a risk to the environment or to navigation

A 50-foot converted live-aboard boat that ran aground in the mouth of the Campbell River a month ago has been reduced to scrap, but much of it remains in the centre of the channel to the consternation of local residents.

“Why is the owner of a boat, after grounding it on the sand bar of the Campbell River estuary, permitted to just abandon the responsibility of cleanup?” asked Diana Kretz, whose home overlooks the disintegrating remains of the MV Pursepa from the north shore of the river. “This boat is a danger, being in a seaplane flight path, and a danger to unsuspecting persons walking on the sand bar at low tide.”

Kretz, whose brother witnessed the March 2 grounding, said the hulk is further demolished with each tide, and that debris including glass and metal is spreading along the bar and the adjacent shore.

“There’s a cupboard on our beach now,” said Kretz. “I picked that up and put it on a log. I guess we’ll burn it; it’s already broken.”

Transport Canada communications officer Sau Sau Liu said individual vessel owners are responsible for their property and for ensuring it does not pose a risk to the environment or to navigation.

“Transport Canada has not been contacted regarding this vessel,” Liu said when reached this week. “We’re following up with the owner to determine if the vessel poses a risk to navigation.”

The wreck sits in a channel used by Corilair Charters float planes, though the planes typically approach and depart via the deeper channel near the south shoreline.

“At this point it hasn’t been (a hazard),” said a Corilair employee, who declined to give his name. “It’s in a shallow area where we wouldn’t be taking off or landing.”

The wreck lies below Painter’s Lodge, which typically installs seasonal wharves in May.

The Pursepa, a wooden-hulled boat built in 1928, initially served as a Department of Fisheries patrol boat.

A 2011 article in The Shipping News stated it was purchased in 1998 by Ian Henry of Victoria and retrofitted into a live-aboard pleasure craft that remained in B.C. waters. At the time of its grounding, the boat was listed for sale for $29,000. Henry could not be reached for comment.

The boat ran aground while traveling downstream on the tide after being docked for repairs. A DCD Piledriving tug was the first to respond via dispatch through Marine Assist International. When it was unable to move the Pursepa off the bar, a Canadian Coast Guard crew responded. The boat, listing to starboard, was braced with planks and float bags to keep it from tipping further, with the hope that it would float free on the high tide the following morning. As the vessel remained grounded, other contractors, including Pacific Pro Dive & Marine Adventures, were called in to explore ways to move it.

Since then, with the boat still stubbornly stuck on the bar, Kretz has observed people removing pieces of the wreck, including the fuel tanks and engine. A piledriver and crane at one point attached a line to the stern and pulled the stern out before leaving.