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Work underway to get steel-hulled boat off Saanich-Oak Bay beach border

Abandoned and derelict boats in general is ‘a multi-faceted problem’
A plan is in place to remove the steel-hulled Valhalla currently beached in Cadboro Bay. (Sonica Parmar/News Staff)

Two beached boats are drawing attention in Victoria, Saanich and Oak Bay, but aren’t anything new to residents in the region.

A vessel stranded high near the border of Saanich and Oak Bay on busy Caddy Bay tends to draw crowds, and online attention. Partly due to the length of stay, but it’s a more complicated extraction than usual, according to area resident Eric Dahli, who is in touch with the boat’s owner.

Dahli, co-founder of the Cadboro Bay Dead Boat Society, said their mission is to keep the bay free of derelicts and also bring the bay back to its “pristine history, with eelgrass and clean water and we’re working with several different organizations to get there.”

“It’s complicated because we’re dealing with the federal government, we’re dealing with the provincial government, we’re dealing with two municipalities and we’re dealing with First Nations,” Dahli said. “It’s a multifaceted problem.”

READ ALSO: Hope sinks for Greater Victoria derelict boat owner

In the past they’ve cleared several bashed and abandoned boats from the beach there.

This one isn’t abandoned, just stranded awaiting the right tides and power to get it out – a costly venture.

“What we have in this situation is a responsible owner. Which when it comes to boats on the beach we don’t often find the words ‘responsible’ and ‘owner’ in the same sentence,” Dahli said.

The owner plans to get it off the beach, though one attempt was already thwarted by the last-minute realization of the enormity of the task. Valhalla is a 60-foot steel-hull ketch. It’s heavy.

The fibreglass sailboat ashore at nearby Gonzales beach is more in the category of what usually happens in the area.

A boat remains beached on the Victoria side of Gonzales Bay. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

The seabed is owned by the province while the surface is federal. Once reported, abandoned vessels are checked for environmental or navigational hazards, but otherwise remedied by private businesses or community groups. For example the not-for-profit Dead Boat Disposal Society, borne of the Cadboro Bay group and led by John Roe, is among the groups that work to fund and coordinate vessel removal up and down Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

READ ALSO: Concerns surface over sunken boats

The Canadian Coast Guard is the federal point of contact for reports of problem vessels. The agency issued its first B.C. fine under the Wrecked, Abandoned or Hazardous Vessels Act to a vessel owner last summer. The ticket was issued to the owner of the 27-foot white hull cabin cruiser Akoo on June 27, 2023 while it was grounded in Cadboro Bay.

The fine came after the coast guard responded to the Akoo multiple times over a handful of months, including when the vessel drifted ashore, discharged pollution, and began to deteriorate rapidly – posing a public safety hazard. Its owner failed to remove it from the water when directed to by authorities, according to the coast guard.

The coast guard maintains and inventory of wrecked, abandoned or hazardous vessels available online at

While not all vessels are confirmed, dozens are listed across the south Island from an aluminum power boat at William Head to larger wood vessel at Sooke Harbour, and several similar to Spellbound – a fibreglass sailboat in Gonzales Bay.

To report a boat in B.C. call 1-800-889-8852.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay, yacht club pair up to pull abandoned boat from Cadboro Bay beach

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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