Originally created 02/09/00

Hilton Head officials OK cleanup of wrecked boat



HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - Debris from the wrecked remains of Miss Edisto -- a shrimp boat that broke loose from its anchor and drifted ashore off Hilton Head Island overnight Jan. 29 -- created a hazard strewn across the Atlantic beach, town officials said Monday.

Frank Margotta, town facilities manager, said he was trying to contact the owner, Fred Bazemore Jr. of Beaufort, to remove the crumbling wreckage.

Meanwhile, Mr. Margotta authorized the town's beach services franchisee, Shore Beach Services Inc., to clean up small pieces of debris littering the shore. Waves and tides moved the debris ashore where The Folly joins the ocean between Burkes Beach and Singleton Beach roads.

Greg DeLoach, assistant town manager, said the town would send a cleanup bill to the owner. He did not have a cost estimate.

"Some people associated with the boat have retrieved some of the nautical equipment and hardware off the boat. However, they have failed to return and remove the remaining debris, which is a substantial amount of wood over about a 100-yard area," Mr. DeLoach said.

"You've got pieces of wood with nails and splinters -- sharp objects like that that people could step on. We want to keep our beaches clean and safe," he said.

"We have a responsibility to step in for the owner when they have failed to do so, in the interest of the public."

Mr. Bazemore was unavailable for comment Monday.

Ralph Wagner, president of Shore Beach Services, said Monday afternoon employees were on the beach clearing the debris.

Mr. Wagner said bigger parts of the boat, including the hull and the wheelhouse, had separated and become mired in sand at The Folly's mouth. In addition, "A lot of miscellaneous pieces of wood have scattered up and down the beach."

He said the debris was not in an area typically used for swimming, and the ocean water at 60 degrees is too cold for that, anyway.

However, Tammy Malone, assistant town facilities manager, said the mired wreckage is in an area where people would go kayaking or surfing.

Unless Mr. Bazemore acts soon, Mr. Margotta said his office would have the boat's large sections removed from The Folly's mouth. But, "I've got to give him the opportunity first."

"If he doesn't get out there, I guess I'll have to cut up that half of a hull that's sitting there and take it out in pieces," Mr. Margotta said. The job will require using heavy equipment to pull the wreckage ashore.

A Coast Guard officer in Charleston said the boat had been anchored in the Atlantic overnight with a crew aboard when it broke loose, dragged the anchor and drifted ashore off Hilton Head.

The crew, Jamis Wells of Darien, Ga., and Anthony Cooler and Kelly East, both of Burton, were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter and rescue swimmer based out of Savannah. They were treated and released by medical personnel.