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The Squamish version of the celebrity stranded English Bay barge sits forgotten for months

Coast Guard is investigating the abandoned vessel at Watts Point.

While in Vancouver, an errant barge at English Bay is worthy of a city sign, tourist selfies, T-shirts and its own Twitter account, in Squamish, an orphaned barge can sit on the shore for months with no attention at all. 

Of course, the big city barge is washed up on a public beach, whereas Squamish's abandoned vessel is at the end of a private road on a remote shore. 

Still, the comparison in attention gave the local who reported it to authorities a chuckle. 

Squamish conservationist John Buchanan first saw the upturned barge at Watts Point in January. In February, he took some drone footage of it. 

He assumed that it was known to the powers that be and would eventually be salvaged and removed. 

"You can see the thing from outer space," said Buchanan, adding that he could find it on Google Maps. 

At the end of April, he contacted The Squamish Chief to see if journalists could help find out when it would be removed. 

"I just assumed that there was a salvage operation going on," he said. 

Turns out, even the Coast Guard didn't know it was sitting there. 

Its current location hadn't been reported, a spokesperson for the Canadian Coast Guard and Fisheries and Oceans Canada told The Squamish Chief. 

Buchanan then made an official report. Apparently, a report of the vessel had been called in back in February when it was a floating navigational hazard, but not of its current location on the shore.

There is a serious side to these abandoned boats, Buchanan noted. 

"The environmental end of things is this: Howe Sound is a fiord. The glacier cut all these magnificent cliffsides, and we don't have very many beaches in Howe Sound and the ones that we do have, you know, are very productive and very important to outgoing smolt salmon... The intertidal zone is where there's all the productivity, right? And that beach is one of the few beaches in Howe Sound, so that barge can't stay there."

The Coast Guard told The Squamish Chief after the report was made that it would begin the process of assessing the vessel. 

"Some of the factors we take into account include risk to human life, type and size of vessel, location, and how much fuel is on board, among other factors," said the spokesperson in a written statement. 

"Coast Guard works with local authorities and response partners to find the owner of the vessel as quickly as possible. We will advise the owner of their responsibilities and support them as they work to recover their vessel."

In situations where an owner cannot be found, the Coast Guard will work with local authorities, the provincial government and other partners to determine the next steps.

"The Coast Guard is focusing on assessing the risks associated with each of the problem vessels reported to date, and any news ones reported, to prioritize actions on high-risk vessels. The risk factors for problem vessels can include environmental, public safety, socio-cultural and economic risks posed by each vessel," the spokesperson said. 

To report an abandoned watercraft, call 1-800-889-8852.

Additional information about reporting wrecked, abandoned or hazardous vessels is available on the federal government's Coast Guard webpage.


The barge in Howe Sound at Watts Point.
The barge in Howe Sound at Watts Point. . John Buchanan


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