Town of Palm Beach News

Palm Beach Refuses to Move Beached Boat

The 32-foot vessel originally named Summer Smart, beached near President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago since Jan. 23, is falling apart, but as of now the Town of Palm Beach is refusing to remove it, as first reported by the Palm Beach Daily News.

“That falls into the category of no good deed goes unpunished,” Town Manager Kirk Blouin said. “Last time, we got sued and had to pay attorney fees and all the other good stuff that comes along with it.”

Blouin is referring a recently settled lawsuit the town was faced with after removing a 72-foot yacht, the Time Out, that was run aground in 2016. 

“It’s personal property,” Blouin says of beached boats. “If we take possession of it, the town is responsible and can be sued for civil liability.”

Blouin says that the town will not touch the boat until March 9, after which he thinks the boat will be officially declared abandoned or derelict.

But the boat may not make it to March 9, as more of the vessel disappears into ocean each day, torn to pieces by the rough surf.

“It’s horrible,” said Diane Buhler, founder of the non-profit organization Friends of Palm Beach. “Half the boat is buried, the guts are exposed, and it’s going to keep spewing pieces.”

Buhler has sent photos to town officials and is frustrated that no one has done anything about getting the boat removed. 

“Everyone turns a blind eye,” said Buhler. “Nobody does anything about it.” 

Palm Beach Refuses to Move Beached Boat

The question of whose responsibility the boat is remains unclear. 

Miami resident Jose Rembrandt Silva Buitrago, 43, registered owner of the boat, has said he will not pay to remove the boat, even after receiving a derelict vessel charge from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Both the U.S. Coast Guard and FWC say that the Town of Palm Beach can remove the boat and then apply for partial reimbursement under FWC’s Derelict Vessel Grant Removal Program.

But Blouin says that the town will not remove the boat, grant money aside.

“It’s not preferred, but it will break up and we’ll pick up the pieces or arrange for the pieces to be picked up,” Blouin said of removing whatever scraps remain after March 9.

Until then, some have attempted to speed up the boat’s natural breakdown process.

Last week, 21-year-old Anthoni Cirra of West Palm Beach was detained by police after he spent eight hours removing what he thought were the most dangerous elements of the boat.

Related >>> Abandoned Boat Begins to Break Apart

Buhler says that Friends of Palm Beach will also clean up hazardous boat scraps, and said that the group has already removed more than 500 pounds of debris as far as hundreds of yards away from the vessel.

“It’s not just the wood, it’s the nails and screws coming out of the wood,” Buhler said. Someone is not going to see it buried in the sand and step right on it.”

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Alanna Barrett

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