As derelict boats hauled, houseboat owner works to free beached vessel

1:34 p.m Monday, Dec. 25, 2017 Local
Donna Tabor and her friend, Tom Ballou, attempt to move her stranded 42-foot houseboat Friday. The boat had run aground at Burt Reynolds Park West in Jupiter. (Bill DiPaolo/The Palm Beach Post)

Derelict boats, eyesores and environmental hazards to many locals, were being hauled away Friday afternoon off Burt Reynolds Park West.

Meanwhile, the owner of a 42-foot houseboat that washed ashore off the park earlier this month was trying to push the 12-ton craft offshore on Friday afternoon. The boat, which does not have a motor, washed ashore at the park after Hurricane Irma.

READ: Jupiter residents want junk boats littering Jupiter waterways hauled away

Palm Beach County cited the boat on Dec. 13 as an abandoned vessel that must be removed.

“The boat is beautiful for sitting on deck and playing music and watching the sunset,” said owner Donna Tabor, who bought the boat for $10,000 last Labor Day. The former owner kept the boat at Bluffs Marina in Jupiter.

The wind blew the boat ashore earlier this month at Burt Reynolds Park West, drawing complaints from local residents. An orange tag issued by Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation was placed Dec. 13 on the vessel. The tag said the vessel had to be removed in 24 hours.

Tabor said she moors the boat off Burt Reynolds Park because local marinas will not allow her to moor on their property. The boat has the proper lighting, title and registration. The bilge pump works, she said.

“The marinas all tell me they don’t allow houseboats,” Tabor said.

Two salvage companies contracted by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Coast Guard are removing derelict boats from canals and the Intracoastal Waterway off Jupiter. The salvage boat off Burt Reynolds Park on Friday afternoon hauled away the sunken sailboat that had collided with Tabor’s houseboat.

The salvage companies will head north to remove derelict boats after finishing in north county, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Mooring the houseboat in the same location off Burt Reynolds Park West where it was before Hurricane Irma may not meet legal requirements, said Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Executive Director Eric Call.

“We’re trying to get (FWC) to include the houseboat as an abandoned vessel to add to the list of boats being removed,” said Call.

Tabor’s houseboat is like a floating recreational vehicle.

Inside is a kitchen with a refrigerator, stove and dining table. A full-screen TV set and stereo are in the living room. Full length mirrors are on the walls. Sliding glass doors open outside. A winding staircase leads up to the deck with a 360-degree view.

“I don’t plan to live on it. But it’s a great place to come out and relax,” said Tabor, watching the sailboats drift by.