The Wreck of the John B.


William Dietz, KP News

Sunken vessels have a romantic quality, and are often fun to look at, unless you happen to run into one of them while you’re water skiing! And that’s what Key Peninsula resident Bill Trandum worries might happen to a wreck which he nicknamed the sloop John B, after the boat in the popular Beach Boys song. But the real name of this vessel remains unknown for the moment, although that could change if the object that the State Department of Natural Resources as “Derelict Vessel KP04-008” is ever raised. A possibility that Trandum and other local residents would welcome, but might not be so positive for the sail boat’s owner, who in words of Sarah Wilson, Derelict Vessel Removal Program Manager, would be “…liable for all costs.”

Although there isn’t any proof as yet, locals like Trandum believe that the John B. could be the same 50-foot concrete boat that spent approximately two years anchored off Dutcher Cove before coming loose in a storm, and washing ashore back in 2002. When last seen the sail boat was beached on its side, but mysteriously disappeared one night, never to be seen again. Unless, as Trandum and others suspect, this is the same vessel that lays in about 30-feet of water about 500 yards West Southwest off the entrance to Dutcher Cove. The John B’s superstructure and rail are visible at a minus-three tide, and judging from the sheen that can be seen in water above it, is leaking some sort of petroleum product.

“You can’t see it unless there’s a minus-three tide,” Trandum says. “Sooner or later it’s going to snag the lower unit of an outboard motor and could jerk the transom right out of the boat.”

Trandum took pictures and sent them along to Wilson. That’s why the State raised the object known as KP04-008 to what they call “priority 2B.” Govspeak for “let’s do this soon.” The problem is money. Wilson put it this way. “When DNR acts as an authorized public entity for a vessel removal we use two pots of money— Seventy-five percent of the money comes from Derelict Vessel Removal Account funds, which result from vessel registration fees, while the other 25% comes from the government agency that is acting as the authorized public entity for the removal… Right now it’s the next one we plan to move. The work would most likely be carried out towards the end of this year, or next summer, depending on how much money we have in the matching account.”

So, if the owner of the Sloop John B is reading this, he or she might want to consider raising hull KP04-008 themselves. There may be evidence aboard, the kind that could lead back to them, and Wilson says that if the Sate carries out the work the total bill will run from $60,000 to $80,000.