RIVERVIEW, Fla. – The process to remove a derelict boat can take up to year and requires careful planning and sometimes a lot of patience.

“Some are sunk, some are half sunk, some are in extremely poor condition,” Stephen Decatur said.

What You Need To Know

He is Hillsborough County’s Marine Safety Coordinator and has been removing abandoned boats for nearly a decade.

Once the state investigates and determines a boat is derelict, the county gets a letter for removal.

On Tuesday, five boats were on the to-do list near the Williams Park Boat Ramp.

“Some are on hard ground, on oyster bed or hard ground. Some are in the sand. Even if they appear to be floating, a lot of the time, they’re actually sitting on the bottom. We have to dewater them,” Decatur said.

Each boat is different and so are the stories of why and how they got there.

“We have people who are elderly, people that can’t financially handle the boats anymore, and that’s how they get in disrepair. We’ve had people deceased,” he said.

When boats sit and decay, over time they become a navigation hazard. And if any fuels or fluids are left behind, they’re a danger to the environment and need to be recovered.

“It’s a sad thing. You figure that boat that we’re pulling, each of the boats, at one time, it was somebody’s boat and they’re family enjoyed it. And for whatever the reason it got in disrepair and we have to come and recover them. I’m a boater. I love boating. I enjoy it, and I’d hate to see my own out here like this." Decatur said.