GARIBALDI, Ore. — In a marina filled with shipping vessels big and small, there is something in the distance that is not where it belongs.

A 70-foot fishing boat, named Amak, was pulled ashore last month after sinking in the harbor.

Those passing by or docking their ships could not help but stop to take a photo.  

“I was just driving by and I saw the boat up in the heart here and thought I’d take a couple of pictures,” Phillip Shane said after putting his phone back in his pocket. “Probably a nice old boat in its day.”

Built in 1915, the Amak likely has a sea of stories to tell. Unfortunately, the ship’s tale is ending in a disheveled state sitting tilted to its side on parking lot concrete.

Charles Ells bought the ship in 1938, converting it into a fishing boat before hydraulics were used to pull in nets, according to former owner Alex Ells.

It sailed the Oregon Coast from 1938 until 2015 and was sold two years later.

It sat in the Port of Garibaldi, aging away, until October 13, 2019.

“We believe it was a catastrophic failure…it went down in about five minutes from when it first started to shutter,” Port of Garibaldi General Manager Mike Saindon said.

With help from the U.S. Coast Guard, port officials were able to respond quickly. The contained hazardous materials, such as gas and oil, before they caused more damage to the water.

This case is part of a bigger issues for Oregon waterway, Saindon said.

“We have a lot of derelict boats that the owners will either walk away from or some other circumstances,” he said.

That leaves local governments to clean it up and foot the bill.

In the Amak case, the boat was in the process of being sold when it sank. The seller passed away and now the buyer, who is the person responsible for the cleanup costs, cannot be found.

“Unfortunately, the response and the disposal falls at the port or the local government entity and you wind up having to financially front it all before we can get restitution from the owners,” Saindon said. “So, it’s a huge problem.”

For now, taxpayers are paying for cleanup, hauling, and scrapping of the ship. Saindon estimates that could cost more than $200,000.

“This boat really had some neat potential. This could have been in a museum or something like that,” he said. “But I think the really frustrating thing for us is that we get a lot of folks who walk away from boats and just put their hands up and say, ‘Well, this isn’t my problem anymore.’”  

Saindon does not have a timeline for when Amak will be removed yet. Officials are still waiting for permits to dismantle it and take it away.

So, if you want to catch a glimpse of maritime history before it is gone, you will have to head to Port of Garibaldi sooner, rather than later.

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