Boat still mired on mud flat in Hampden

Posted Sept. 21, 2011, at 9 p.m.

HAMPDEN, Maine — A little over a month after vowing he would free his grounded 57-foot fishing boat and take it for a victory lap on the Penobscot River, Josh Mizrachi is finding that time and tide are running against him and his 47-year-old vessel.

The Eastern Star, formerly named Roamer, ran aground July 20 after Mizrachi lost control of it because of a fouled propeller shaft. It has been aground on a mudflat on a cove owned by Waterfront Marine.

“I have tried to contact Mr. Mizrachi several times, but have not heard back,” said Hampden Town Manager Susan Lessard. “If I don’t hear from him by Monday, I’ll recommend to the infrastructure committee that we notify the Maine Department of Conservation that we’re recognizing the boat as abandoned and they can take care of it.”

Attempts to reach Mizrachi, who owns Ace Taxi/Bangor Air Shuttle, on Wednesday afternoon were unsuccessful.

Time is becoming more and more critical as Lessard is concerned that the boat could start breaking up once temperatures begin to plummet and ice builds up on the water.

“The clock is ticking and it’s been ticking for some time,” she said. “It will become a navigational hazard in the winter if it breaks up.”

Lessard said the Maine Department of Conservation has 60 days to move an abandoned craft once it receives official notification. The department has to first notify the vessel’s owner and give him 15 days to respond. If no response or action is taken, the department may initiate removal of watercraft.

“It’s been our hope that Mr. Mizrachi would handle it himself,” Lessard said. “I understand he’s working on this himself and needs some help, and that the tides limit the time he has to work on the boat, but the winter season is approaching and rapidly overtaking him.”

Mizrachi told the BDN on Aug. 16 that he was making steady progress fixing the boat, depending on the weather, and intended to plug all the leaks so it could float off the flat at high tide. A couple of attempts to free the boat with air bags, a tow truck and another boat have failed because the boat quickly filled back up with water before it could float free.

The Roamer sank Jan. 15 at the Rockland fish pier and required assistance from the Coast Guard and Department of Environmental Protection. Mizrachi bought the boat, which was built in Thomaston by Newbert and Wallace, and had it towed to Rockland, where he had a new engine installed in it.

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