Visitors to Edmonds’ Marina Beach have been wondering about a wooden boat beached there for three weeks. A possible segment for a Gilligan’s Island remake? The Castaways? Robinson Crusoe?
Since the boat is on City of Edmonds property, we talked to Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite. She put us in touch with the boat’s owner, Brick Engstrom, who told us this story:
It was the night of Halloween, and Engstrom, on his way to Tacoma from Port Townsend, had anchored his cabin cruiser, The Hideaway, in the protected area about 100-150 yards off Marina Beach to spend the night aboard. The weather was beautiful — warm and calm — and after securing the anchor he and his Siberian Husky Giovanna Marie (“but I always call her Gio”) went below to spend what they expected to be a restful night before pushing south in the morning.
“I woke up to this incredible crash,” he said. “The fore and aft bilge pumps were going full blast, so I knew I was taking on water. I shook the sleep out of my eyes and ran up on deck to discover I’d slipped my anchor and was foundering on the rocks just off the Edmonds dog park.
“I think it was the wake from a ferry that caused my anchor to slip,” he said. “But whatever the cause, there I was aground on the rocks in the middle of the night. I called the Coast Guard, marine assist and my insurance company. They arrived really fast, and I threw a line to the marine assist folks on shore. My boat was taking on water and starting to list, so I jump overboard and waded in. To make matters worse, I soon learned that Gio was injured badly enough in the accident to require surgery, but she’s going to be OK.”
An independent spirit inexorably drawn to the water, Engstrom has dreamed about living aboard and sailing the globe since he was a teenager. His first live-aboard took him as far as South America, but was later wrecked in an accident. He planned similar adventures with The Hideaway, but the events of Halloween night put these out of reach.
The good pay and seasonal nature of his work as an independent high-rise window washer in Alaska gave Engstrom the chance to live a life that many would envy, but a recent snapped scaffold line and a seven-story fall has kept him from working for a while. “Money has been tight,” he said, “and pretty much everything I have is sunk into The Hideaway.”
Engstrom thought he had a solution to his problem when he found a marine salvage firm that said it could help.
“I met with a person named Rodney William Powell from American Marine Specialties, who said he was able to take on the job,” Engstrom related. “He needed some cash up front to rent the equipment to get the boat off the beach and onto a trailer, so I gave him what I had left over after paying off Gio’s vet bill. Then he dropped from sight. I haven’t heard from him since, so it looks like my money is gone.”
And in the meantime, The Hideaway remains grounded at the Marina Beach dog park. Buffeted daily by tides, wind and wave action, it has now sustained enough damage to be effectively beyond repair.
Because Marina Beach and the dog park are administered by the Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, city officials have been working with Engstrom from the outset to resolve the situation.
“Mr. Engstom has told us verbally that he’s given up custody of the boat,” reports Edmonds Parks Director Carrie Hite, “and we’re working with the state Department of Natural Resources’ Boat Derelict Program so that the city can take possession.”
According to Hite, the process usually takes 30 days, but with The Hideaway stranded on a public beach and becoming further damaged by the day, the DNR has agreed to expedite the process and allow the city to get the boat out of there. However, it will still have to be stored the required 30 days before the city can take custody.
“We’ve retained a contractor to remove the boat and put it in storage for 30 days until we can officially take possession of it,” she said. “The first step is to remove any residual fuel and other hazardous materials from the boat. As soon as that’s done, they’ll get the boat off the beach and into storage.
“The DNR Derelict Boat Program will reimburse us for up to 90 percent of the total cost, so the impact on Edmonds finances will be minimal,” she said. “We’re looking at options now for what to do with boat after we take custody, but I think it’s likely that it will end up with a professional salvage firm.”
Through it all, Brick Engstrom remains true to his dream. “I’ll get back up to Alaska, back to work, and back on a firm financial footing,” he said. “Then start looking for another boat.”
— By Larry Vogel