By Michelle Switzer
The Bristol Harbor Committee and Board of Selectmen are trying to solve the puzzle of removing the fishing vessel Columbia, which has been moored in Pemaquid Harbor for
over a year.
“The owner of the vessel had an agreement with the mooring owner,” Pemaquid Harbor Harbor Master John Stolecki said. “The agreement fell apart, and the owner was
told to leave by early October.”
The Bristol Harbor Committee has worked with a lawyer, the Coast Guard, and various state agencies to try to resolve the problem of removing the vessel.
“It’s taken a lot of hours and work, and there’s still no remedy,” Stolecki said.
The fishing vessel recently drifted more than 100 yards in the harbor, Bristol resident Earle Cooper told the selectmen at their Dec. 3 meeting.
“It’s destroyed my mooring. It’s done something to my personal property,” Cooper said. “If my mooring drifted into someone else’s, the harbor master or someone else
would take action.”
Cooper said if the vessel is not removed by spring, more residents will complain.
“If we can get it out of the harbor, hopefully we can address the mooring situation,” Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Chad Hanna said.
Hanna said the town and the harbor committee are trying to resolve any issues in ways that will not put the town into legal trouble or cause too much expense.
During the most recent harbor committee meeting, the committee sent several inquiries to parties, hoping they may be willing to purchase the vessel and take the
vessel out of the harbor.
“It’s a matter of trying to get them to contact the supposed owner now,” Hanna said.
Stolecki has also been working on trying to get interested parties together to further communication.
The Columbia does not fit the criteria for the definition of abandoned vessel as stated in the harbor ordinance, according to Hanna.
“The issue is not as cut and dry as you think it would be,” Hanna said.
Stolecki extended an invitation to the public to attend harbor committee meetings, to give input and ideas on how to solve the problem.
Citizens have not yet attended these public meetings, he said.
James Sheehy, the vessel’s caretaker, said he will be taking the Columbia out of Pemaquid Harbor very shortly.
He declined further comment.