UPDATED: Derelict ship sinks into Cowichan Bay

The listing Beaver continues to raise concern among Cowichan Bay observers. - courtesy Joanne Jenner
The listing Beaver continues to raise concern among Cowichan Bay observers.
— image credit: courtesy Joanne Jenner

Lori Iannidinardo may be applying for a new job: prophet.

Just days after the Cowichan Bay director predicted the derelict ship the SS Beaver was destined to sink to the bottom of the bay, that’s exactly what happened.

The Beaver sank sometime between 8 and 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night. Ray Drouillard and two friends watched in horror from just 20 feet away as it went down.

The group launched a boat to inspect the ship because it was showing signs of imminent foundering. They arrived just in time to see it slide, stern-first, under the waves and slowly drift away from its moorage as it eased toward the bottom.

“The stench of oil and diesel was immediate,” Drouillard said.

This comes just a few days after Iannidinardo spoke to the News Leader Pictorial about the boat, demanding an end to federal foot-dragging about derelict-boat legislation.

The main focus of her ire, the Beaver was a replica of a 137-foot, diesel-powered classic paddle wheeler.

It appeared in the bay about a year ago, just as another notorious large neglected ship, the Dominion, was hauled away by its salvage owner.

As Iannidinardo made her comments, the Beaver was sitting at the Western Stevedoring dock, but listing badly.

“It’s hard to say what contaminants are on her. There’s a big chunk out of the Beaver after it got loose in a storm and rammed into Western’s dock.

“It’ll more than likely sink,” she said, “but the worst part is Beaver is going straight into our eelgrass beds, a (planting) project we’ve been working on for years.”

Iannidinardo was heartened after hearing federal officials visited Washington State to study its derelict-boat laws, but “they (feds) aren’t really moving fast enough.”

She and Cowichan MP Jean Crowder want similar Canadian laws that would let the Coast Guard or community governments seize, scrap, or salvage dumped vessels.

That’s exactly what folks at Western Stevedoring would like to do with the Beaver, she said.

“They’d like to put it on their dock and take it apart.”

Meanwhile, Iannidinardo cited a fleet of sunken smaller boats in the bay.

“Many times people have taken their Fiberglas boats and sunk them, and then you see bits and pieces (wash ashore),” she said. “It’s an ongoing issue.”

As far as the Beaver is concerned, Drouillard was worried about potential environmental damage and he wants someone to be held accountable.

“Officials should answer why nothing was done. The Coast Guard has been warned over and over.”

— with a file from John McKinley

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