The ghost ship of Gerritsen Inlet

Sinking debt: This 25-foot motorboat was moored to Yolanda and Steve Fazzouli’s property during the night of Sept. 16, leaving the couple with a massively expensive problem on their hands.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

It’s a hull of a problem.

On Sept. 17, under cover of night, some surreptitious sailors scuttled a 25-foot motorboat in an inlet just off of Gerritsen Beach, creating major headaches for nearby homeowners and a hazard for the environment in a move that shocked even Sandy-hardened locals.

“I’ve been here going on almost 10 years, and nothing like this has ever happened, not even during Sandy,” said Yolanda Fazzuoli, whose rear deck now overlooks the filthy, half-submerged vessel.

Fazzuoli was in bed in her Abby Court home that evening when she heard what sounded like two men conversing outside. But when she looked out her window, she didn’t see anyone, so she nodded off to sleep. It wasn’t until the next morning that Fazzouli and her husband Steven found the massive steel motorboat scuttled in the shallow waters of Gerritsen Inlet — a few feet from the shore, but firmly within her property.

Making matters worse, the cost of removing the derelict vessel may fall on the retired couple, according to the Department of Sanitation, which said that because the wreck isn’t accessible from the land, it’s not the department’s responsibility.

To figure out how to get rid of the boat, the Fazzuolis contacted Jack Schachner, owner of the White Cap Marine Rescue Services, who provided an estimate for the cost of removal and disposal.

And it’s enough to shiver your timbers.

First, the breach that caused the vessel to sink has to be identified and repaired before pumping out the water so the boat can be moved — a minimum cost of $3,000. And then there’s the cost of proper disposal — which is likely what prompted the boat’s rightful owners to abandon it in the first place. Being a steel-hulled boat, the vessel will have to be cut into pieces using blowtorches — an additional $4,000 fee. Finally, safely disposing of the fractured hull can cost another $1,500 to $2,500 — for a grand total of up to $9,500.

“People do not realize the cost associated with this kind of operation,” said Schachner. “It’s astronomical.”

The Fazzoulis — who, even after receiving relief funds, had to pay an additional $25,000 out of pocket to repair damage to their home from Hurricane Sandy — say there’s no way they can afford the enormous cost of dealing with the junked boat.

“I’m a retired teacher,” said Yolanda. “It’s bad enough that I went through Sandy. I can’t pay for that boat — and I don’t think I should have to.”

The couple has reached out to Assemblywoman Roxanne Persaud, who is working with various agencies and the NYPD Harbor Patrol to see if the city will help with the removal — although nobody has stepped up as of yet to provide assistance, according to a spokesman for the assemblywoman.

The sanitation department sent a supervisor to investigate the derelict vessel, but ultimately decided it was not within the department’s jurisdiction and that it would not assist in the removal, according to a spokeswoman, who could not suggest another agency that might have jurisdiction there.

Meanwhile, the vessel’s engine and fuel tank threaten to spew noxious pollutants into the inlet, and there’s a possibility that the boat itself may damage a nearby bulkhead on the Fazzouli’s property, according to Schachner.

“These people have a real mess,” he said. “It looks like it moved closer to the bulkhead, and it could do some damage.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Scuttle butt: Yolanda Fazzuoli woke up the morning of Sept. 17 to discover a 25-foot, steel-hulled motorboat had been moored to her property.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

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