Floating home removed from Von Geldern Cove


Marsha Hart, KP News

Several people were living on a floating houseboat in Von Geldern Cove in August. Residents in the area were concerned, and its arrival coincided with a spike in thefts. Photo: Ron Cameron, Special to KP News

A live-aboard floating houseboat has been removed from Von Geldern Cove and destroyed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. The floating structure was not classified as a vessel, and had been trespassing on state aquatic lands for years, according to DNR. It was without a sanitation system and littered Styrofoam and trash into the local waters.

“By law you’re not allowed to have a floating home unless it is in a marina,” said Wynnae Wright, natural resources specialist in the aquatics division for Pierce County at DNR.

Though DNR had tried for years to contact the previous owner, Wright said he was “off the grid.”

“We couldn’t find him. He had no ties, no home, and he ignored our notices,” Wright said of Greg Capp.

David Deacon, who had recently taken ownership of the floating houseboat was cooperative and instrumental in the removal, Wright said.

Deacon moved the houseboat from Filucy Bay to Von Geldern Cove, and Von Geldern Cove residents became concerned as it was obviously being used as a party boat. Its arrival also coincided with an increase in thefts of boats, motors, kayaks and other items in the area.

Tension was palpable in the community and a meeting was called Aug. 17 at the Lutheran Church on Lackey Road.

Hugh McMillan, a Home resident and member of Citizens Against Crime, organized the meeting and started sending out notices to concerned residents. Mike Baum, president of CAC, said he sent out E-mail notices to the Citizens Against Crime members. Lt. Jerry Lawrence from Pierce County Sheriff’s Department Purdy Detachment, Larry Riddell, an enforcement officer with DNR, and a representative from Pierce County Citizens for a Healthy Bay attended the meeting, along with about 70 people from the community.

“The peace and tranquility we have come to know and love out here was threatened,” said Baum. “The people in Home were thinking they were threatened, and we take our peace very seriously out here.”

The Port of Olympia towed the floating houseboat from Von Geldern Cove Aug. 26 and it was destroyed. The houseboat had no motor, no bathroom facility, and was a navigational hazard according to Washington State Department of Natural Resources.Photo: Mike Baum, Special to KP News

Deacon signed it over to DNR on Aug. 25 and it was removed Aug. 26. It was towed out of Von Geldern Cove by the Port of Olympia and taken to Olympia and destroyed, Wright said. The cost was between $7,000 and $10,000.

Because the houseboat was not classified as a vessel, the Derelict Vessel Removal Program funds were not used in the removal, said Melissa Ferris, manager of the Derelict Vessel Removal Program for DNR. She manages the department and the list of 210 derelict vessels in the state waters. The DNR Aquatics Program supplied the funds for the removal.

“We handed out registration forms for buoys and vessels at the meeting,” Wright said. “We hope we can get everyone out there (Filucy Bay and surrounding area) legal. It will make it easier when someone shows up that isn’t supposed to be there.”

DNR is working to remove several abandoned or derelict vessels in the waters on the Key Peninsula.

A sailboat in Filucy Bay that was “dumped” by someone was also part of a DNR cleanup.

According to DNR that vessel almost sank last winter and was saved by a pump-off by Citizens for a Healthy Bay, a Tacoma-based environmental organization. The owner was asked to remove the boat, but has not complied. DNR has posted a notice on the vessel.

In the past two years, DNR has removed five abandoned or derelict vessels from FIlucy, Lakebay and Von Geldern Cove to be destroyed.

Ron Cameron contributed to this report.