NEWBURYPORT – A fiberglass boat hull that had been stuck on the north jetty since the craft flipped in high seas in June, drowning its owner, was towed to Joppa by the harbormaster this week and carried away by the city DPS on Wednesday to be scrapped.
Harbormaster Paul Hogg secured and towed the shattered hull Tuesday with help from American Yacht Club members, dragging it onto the Joppa Park boat ramp. A crew from the city Department of Public Services used a front-end loader and dump truck to haul the hulk of the 20-footer away Wednesday morning.
Hogg said the boat had been on Department of Conservation and Recreation property at Salisbury Beach since it washed up on June 6.
The owner of the boat, Chhoeun Chhoun, died in the capsizing, and no one had come to claim it, Hogg said. In addition, no one at DCR had made any decision about pulling it off the rocks, so when a storm tide this week floated the hull free, Hogg seized the opportunity.
“It was stuck on the jetty and no one knew what to do with it,” he said Wednesday. “It was concerning to me it was going to break free and another boat was going to hit it.”
Once the boat floated free of the rocks, Hogg said he was surprised it didn’t sink, considering how damaged it was.
“I was glad to get that off the jetty and out of the river. I’m glad to put that to bed,” he said.
Hogg said the day of the capsizing, June 6, he was able to retrieve the gas tank from the boat, preventing a fuel spill in the Merrimack.
Chhoun and Sok Pen, both of Lowell, were thrown into the water at the mouth of the Merrimack when the boat capsized. Pen climbed onto the jetty and was rescued by Salisbury police officers.
Chhoun and Pen had been spotted clinging to the overturned 20-foot boat in high winds and 12-foot waves.
Coast Guard personnel aboard a 47-foot vessel threw a buoy to Chhoun but he was unable to hang on to it. He disappeared in the waves, prompting a lengthy search overnight that was suspended the next morning.
On June 12, people at Salisbury Beach found a body washing up and secured it in place until police arrived. Authorities later said the body was that of the missing fisherman from Lowell.
Richard K. Lodge can be contacted at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @RichardLodge_DN.