The Beaver is just one of the derelict boats that has plagued Cowichan Bay. (Citizen file)

The Beaver is just one of the derelict boats that has plagued Cowichan Bay. (Citizen file)

Derelict boat hunters scour Cowichan shores

It will take years to remove the boats

Members of the Dead Boats Disposal Society are working to clear the Cowichan Valley area shoreline of derelict boats and they’d like the public to help identify and report the vessels.

John Roe and his crew have been everywhere recently, from the Malahat Nation territory north through Cowichan, seeking out sunken and abandoned beached boats.

Roe laughed when asked how many vessels he figured were in the Cowichan region.

“I imagine there’s a few,” he said. “We [search] to a dept of 60 feet now. There’ll probably be a few dozen down there, no doubt in my mind.”

If someone has or knows of a vessel that is in the water and has reached the end of life, they’re encouraged to contact the Dead Boats Disposal Society at: and or 250-538-2120 with information related to the type of vessel, it’s construction material, whether it’s floating or beached, and the location of the vessel, as well as include any photographs of the boat and its identifying marks. The Society can also be reached though their Facebook page at:

For years there’s been a push to remove the derelict vessels from the likes of Cowichan and Maple bays, and really, all over the B.C. coast.

“People get a little hot tempered because we’re not fast enough but it takes six months to a year to get them processed,” Roe explained.

First the crews must locate the vessels. Then they need to try to identify them and get them processed through the Transport Canada Receiver of Wrecks. Once they get a Section 38 removal letter, they are permitted to go back to remove and properly dispose of the dead boats.

Technology is getting better though and Roe said it’s helping the crews become faster. He also said it’s been through the marine community’s support that his group has been able to grow and expand its reach.

“It’s pretty incredible how they’ve stepped out over the years,” he said. “If they don’t tell us where [the boats] are, we don’t know where they are. The community here has stepped up and there’s quite a few in Cowichan Bay and Maple Bay.”

Roe said it will likely take a year or two to clear the red tape and remove the derelict boats from the region.

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