Abandoned houseboat yields messy surprises

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The abandoned remains of a houseboat once moored in North Augusta yielded lots of challenges -- and some unwelcome surprises -- for volunteers who removed it from the Savannah River.

Volunteers removed the sewage-infested remains of a houseboat from the Savannah River this week with the help of several local businesses. 
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Volunteers removed the sewage-infested remains of a houseboat from the Savannah River this week with the help of several local businesses.

"It was coming all apart and making a mess," said Tonya Bonitatibus, the director of Savannah Riverkeeper. "For the last three weeks we've been pulling out long pieces of wood and big hunks of styrofoam and all kinds of junk."

The deteriorating blue houseboat's owner had the upper portions of the boat removed, but the L-shaped floating foundation was abandoned and eventually drifted downstream and came to rest on the South Carolina side of the channel.

"We needed to get it out of the water because that area is frequented by wakeboarders and people in boats," Bonitatibus said. "It was going to cause an accident."

Earlier this week, volunteers that included members of the Augusta Rowing Club, Riverkeeper and the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy teamed up with Craven Auto Salvage and Thompson Wrecking to move the platform to the boat ramp at Augusta Riverfront Marina, where it was finally pulled from the water late Thursday.

It took a heavy-duty tow truck provided by Craven Auto Salvage to slide the dock out of the water at the marina, where it is being dismantled and being placed in containers provided by Thompson Wrecking.

The operation was successful but included some messy surprises from underneath the floating platform.

"When it lifted up, there were all these pipes and at least 30 55-gallon drums came from underneath this thing," Bonitatibus said. "Some of them were sewage."

The trash is being hauled off, she said, and Modern Welding has offered to cut up the steel frame that remains so it can be salvaged as scrap metal.


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