Look to your right as you cross the Ashley River bridge into downtown Charleston and you’ll see the shrimp trawler leaning to one side as it sinks into the pluff mud.
The Runaway has been out there for years. It’s one of at least 15 other derelict boats littering the river today, says Sgt. Chad Womack, supervisor of the Charleston Police Department’s marine patrol.
The city of Charleston and the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control landed a $60,000 grant last year to clean up derelict boats. Twelve were removed from the Ashley River, where most of the Charleston area’s abandoned boats are found, Womack said. But at least 15 remain, and the city doesn’t have any more money to remove them.
Even though The Runaway is an eyesore at one of the main entry points to the peninsula, it wasn’t removed last year because law enforcement officials were able to find the boat’s owner. The grant allowed the removal of boats only when the owner couldn’t be found. But it’s the responsibility of a boat owner to pay to remove the boat, Womack said.
“Derelict boats are a huge issue” on the Ashley River,” he said. It’s a crime to abandon a boat. But some boat owners simply can’t afford the $10,000 to $18,000 it costs to remove and dump them. It’s difficult to know what to do with the vessels, Womack said.
Read more in Friday’s editions of The Post and Courier.