The Joint Venture goes down on Nov. 22.
A 26-foot pleasure boat, the Joint Venture, sank in Lowell’s Cove, Orr’s Island, on Nov. 22. The owner says he will salvage the boat soon, while the town is taking steps to ensure its removal.
Antonio DiPietro, of Bailey Island, owns the boat, according to a Dec. 6 letter from Harbor Master Paul Plummer to DiPietro. But DiPietro, in a phone interview on Wednesday, Dec. 15, said that he sold the boat several weeks before it sank and has a bill of sale to prove it.
DiPietro said the responsibility to remove the boat has fallen on him because the buyer won’t remove it and DiPietro is the last registered owner. He said that he has contacted a diver and plans to haul the boat onto the beach at Lowell’s Cove by Friday, Dec. 17.
In the Dec. 6 letter, Plummer said that DiPietro previously told him he would remove the boat before Thanksgiving.
The letter advises DiPietro that he must remove the boat as soon as possible or risk legal action. Plummer described the boat as a Silverton motor vessel.
Plummer, in a phone interview, said the laws that govern marine salvage are “tricky” and it can take months for the town to remove a sunken boat.
After the harbor master sends a notice of removal, the owner has 15 business days to respond. If the owner fails to remove the boat, the Board of Selectmen can declare it abandoned. The harbor master can then issue a summons for abandonment of watercraft, a Class E crime.
Next, the town notifies the Submerged Lands Program at the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, which notifies the boat owner again and allows 60 days for the owner to respond.
When the 60 days run out, the Submerged Lands Program can authorize the town to remove the vessel. The program sometimes has funds available to assist with removal.
In the case of the Joint Venture, a Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy hand-delivered the notice of removal on Dec. 6. The next step, if the owner doesn’t remove the boat, is the determination of abandonment by the Board of Selectmen, which could take up the issue as soon as Dec. 30.
The U.S. Coast Guard has inspected the site for environmental concerns, but didn’t raise any, Plummer said. DiPietro said there was no fuel on board.