Abandoned boats in Virginia Beach create eyesore, environmental and safety concerns

derelict boat.jpg
Posted at 5:55 PM, Feb 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 16:38:41-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - It's an eyesore that may have caught your attention in Virginia Beach — neglected boats left to rot in our waterways.

One local nonprofit, the Vessel Disposal and Reuse Foundation (VRDF), is taking action to get the derelict vessels cleaned up.

“Below the surface you have fuel, oil, cleaning products, chemicals, plastics, all these items that are not good for the environment,” VDRF Executive Director Mike Provost said. "You also have nets, rigging and lines, and those are dangerous to marine life and humans."

Once out of the water, the metal is recycled, but there's nothing Provost can do yet about the fiberglass.

“Fiberglass has no value, and unfortunately in the United States there’s only one program that reuses fiberglass and that’s up in Rhode Island," Provost said. "Our goal is to replicate that fiberglass reuse program here in Virginia.”

There's environmental and safety concerns surrounding derelict boats, but there are legal issues as well.

“In Virginia it’s illegal to have a boat in a state of dereliction or in a state of sinking,” Provost said.

It could be a $2,500 fine and 12 months jail time, but Provost said that doesn't solve the issue. The boat will still be rotting in our waterways, even if the owner is punished.

Currently Provost has his sights set on four boats in a 300-yard radius near Dockside in Virginia Beach. Once those are tackled, he hopes to go bigger.

“There’s 170 abandoned and derelict vessels in Virginia, and we’re not going to stop," Provost said. "It's VRDF’s mission and my intent to keep chipping away at those numbers until a better solution surfaces."

VRDF is having a fundraiser on Saturday, February 26 at Dockside in Virginia Beach. All proceeds will go towards the $35,000 needed to remove the four boats nearby in the Lynnhaven River. More information can be found here.

Provost would like to thank donors and his sponsors Tidewater Staffing and Wasserhund Brewing Company for their contributions.