August 19, 2019
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Mudflat owner on the hook for boat that ran aground 6 years ago

The rusted fishing boat that has been stuck in river mud in Hampden since 2011 doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.

Six years after the boat ran aground in the Penobscot River near the Bangor city line, the state has decided not to try to force its owner to pay to get rid of it. And if the owner of the mudflat wants the boat gone, he can pay for its removal, state officials say.

But the property owner says he’s in no rush.

“I’m not jumping right on it,” said Wendell Sproul, who owns Waterfront Marine, which includes the mudflat. “I don’t care about the boat. The state doesn’t care. The town doesn’t care.”

That means there’s no end in sight for the saga of the doomed 57-foot fishing boat, “Roamer,” which has been mired on the bottom of the Penobscot River since July 20, 2011, when owner Josh Mizrachi ran aground in a cove after a rope became tangled in his propeller.

The state says it’s not pursuing the estimated removal cost of $16,975 because Mizrachi can’t afford to pay, said John Noll, director of the Submerged Lands Program under the state’s Bureau of Parks and Lands, which deals with abandoned vessels.

Because the boat ended up on private land and poses no hazards, the state is not responsible for extricating it, Noll said.

Sproul has not gotten his own removal estimate, but said the state has offered to pitch in about $5,000 to help offset the cost.

“Eventually, we’ll see if we can move it,” Sproul said.

Hampden officials also are looking into grant funds to help Sproul cover the costs, according to Town Manager Angus Jennings.

Mizrachi, who owned the now-defunct Ace Taxi in Bangor, purchased the boat from salvage after it took on water in January 2011, sinking while tied to the Rockland Fishing Pier, and he towed it to Bangor with no engine.

Mizrachi hoped to restore Roamer, but ran out of money after the boat got stuck in the mudflat. Several efforts to raise it failed.

Hampden declared Roamer abandoned in October 2011, in an effort to have state agencies remove it. Two years later, the Maine Department of Agriculture announced that the former fishing boat was free for the taking, but so far, only the mast and other parts have been removed as salvage.

Mizrachi’s former cellphone number now rings another business. He could not be reached for comment.

The shoreline by the vessel has unstable rocks, so Sproul does not want people stopping by to take photos, he said.

 



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