David Rosen
The barge called Seahorse from Northern Marine Salvage arrived around 8:30am this morning and got the cleanup underway. It was expected to be complete by 1:00pm this afternoon.

UPDATE 2 - SLIDESHOW: Beached boats tale is tangled; Charges may be pressed by DNR

Cleanup underway now, will be done today

By Patrick Robinson and David Rosen

UPDATE Feb. 21 9:58am
The crew from Northern Marine Salvage brought out a crane equipped barge to remove the debris and wreckage of the trimaran that went aground last week next to the Harbor West Condominiums on Beach Drive. The work is now proceeding and should be complete in short order since some of the wreckage, the smaller pieces were either cleaned up or contained by a boom earlier.

UPDATE Feb. 20 9:15am
A salvage effort for the now destroyed trimaran is set to get underway. Eric Muller, Director of Marketing and Sales for Ballard Diving & Salvage who was contracted to handle the work spoke to the Herald.

“Currently what we have on scene is a containment boom that is in place to keep the debris in one place. We were activated by the Department of Natural Resources via an existing state contract to remove derelict vessels. Today we will have crews on scene picking up the loose debris. In the next 24-48 hours we will have a landing craft with excavator come in and remove the rest of the vessel. The vessel is in pieces so it is pretty much a cleanup operation. By tomorrow evening the beach should be back to normal,” he said.

The unfortunate tale of the beached boats on Beach Drive took another turn Tuesday as the owner, Richard Erskine was initially denied use of the service ramp at Harbor West Condominiums 3701 Beach Drive SW to remove his still functional boat. Now the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said they may press charges in the incident though details are not complete as yet and they said they "looking into several options," according to Tony Droscher Aquatics Program Communications Manager for DNR. They are sending a staff person to do an assessment of how to remove the wreckage.

At last report Erskine had pulled the boat out via the ramp next to the condominiums with the help of a neighbor who asked to remain anonymous. The use of the ramp was blocked at first because of a dispute over ownership.

DNR said they are sending someone to the scene and are in touch with the Port of Seattle to determine what the jurisdiction of the beach really is. They are not certain at this point if it is on "DNR, State or private tidelands" but they are trying to work on a resolution. They are trying to identify where the boundaries are.

The smaller boat, was moved on Monday afternoon by Erskine to the north side of the condos. He had drained the boat of water and at high tide tried to pull it between the pilings but "There's one lousy rock between the trimaran and the shore and it's too deep to go around it, so I had to wait for the tide to go out so I could walk around the other side. So I made way through to get over to the ramp right next to the apartments (condos). Then he backed his trailer down the ramp, figuring there would be no issue. "Then they come and say it's private property and I can't be on that ramp so I have get out of here. So I slept in my van last night and try to figure it out today."

The whole story began as a listing on Craigslist of the Trimaran and Erskine who is a self described inventor said, "I was going to do some green energy research using gyroscopes to remove pollution and I also needed a home but when I was working on these inventions the apartment complex said 'Don't make noise at night' and the person above would say, 'Don't make noise during the day' and I work nights so there was no way to machine the parts for my inventions."

Erskine also said he works helping disabled people.

So the free Trimaran seemed appealing since he could avoid creating problems for neighbors and could live aboard it.

"Since I'm into making Star Trek more of a reality with the attitude of doing things because they are important and not for money and caring about people, this thing looks like the Enterprise and the guy wanted it to have a good home. He got married and his wife didn't like boats. So I beat out 50 other people because this is a good cause for it. it turns out that it had been sitting so long that the hull had weakened. It didn't rot, it had softened. It was ok in the Shilshole Marina but a third of the way into towing it the pressure caused the side to split out and the thing went down. I was trying to get to Tacoma where I would be sheltered. The weather was fine. I was having a great time up until that. I was sleeping on it for a week, getting prepared because that was my new home. I loved it. With the pontoon down it pulled off the rope. So I'm sitting there trying to lasso it and pull it into position to where it's pulling the pontoon up rather than digging deeper into the water and it took hours trying get a rope around it with a pole then it pulled off and by the time I got into a position to pull (I had left the running lights on, on the boat) the battery had run down and I couldn't get the motor started. So I got the battery out of the other boat and that got the motor started but by that time I had drifted from near Point Fosdick (near Gig Harbor) over to these apartments (Harbor West Condos) and the rudder grounded out and I couldn't go anywhere. Then I had to get over to shore, tie up to something and keep yanking at 4 o'clock in the morning to make sure that when the tide came in I didn't hit the apartments. The top of me was bundled up so I was ok standing in the water in my pants for hours cranking this thing up. So I see this little dinghy sitting there I realize it doesn't belong to anybody so I used that to go check on the rudder when the tide goes out and the current suddenly took me, and I had just let go for a second and off it went underneath these pilings and it turned out that the reason somebody got rid of the dinghy is that it was cracked and leaking. So I grabbed a pipe under there and I'm holding on trying not to fall in the water and there's nowhere to go so I end up sinking in the water and I'm totally soaked and it's like 6 o'clock in the morning and I'm barely able to function, taking one step at a time, going over the rocks, freezing. By the time I make it back out from under the pilings I can't even think anymore I'm so cold. Fortunately there's a lady here Michelle who was an onlooker and she saw me and literally saved my life. She got me clothes and a shower. It took forever showering to warm up.

Then I patched the boat and I'm going to float on the tide the next day and a storm came up, washed the water over the pontoon and flooded it, washed over the top of my boat and flooded it. There was nothing I could do about it. With the waves hitting it, it snapped off the pontoon and it was the pontoon that beat the heck out of the boat. That was the end of that boat."

On Sunday the Coast Guard along with the Washington State Dept. of Ecology came down and took the gas out of the power boat.

"The police told me to get out of the water and stop trying to save the boat (referring to his power boat)." He was trying to salvage some things and clean up some of the wreckage. "But I don't have to give away my boat just because it's cracked in a couple of spots. I've got no money. I'm on disability and helping disabled people to do my part and still be worth something. I was given a medication to handle stress when I was helping homeless people and I lost my job so it turns out that my brain shuts down when I'm under stress. But in between I'm really intelligent and functional."

"I'm just trying to make a difference in the world even though I'm disabled."

"There are people who bent over backward to help me and other people who bent over backward to make everything impossible. 'We don't have liability insurance so you have to take that thing up on your back and haul it out of here'. 'We can't have you step on our property,' and other people give you clothes and a shower and food."

Erskine was involved in a matter that involved DNR last fall when a dock that had a bart on it washed ashore at Pioneer Point on Maury Island which is Aquatic Reserve. It wasn't considered a true vessel so it didn't qualify for derelict vessel removal funding but they did have the Puget Sound Corps crew clean it up. "He's been very cooperative with us," Droscher said of Erskine, "but I'm not sure where we're going to take it."

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