TAMPA — It took nearly a year, but the Moonraker II is finally headed to the trash heap.
The white, wooden fishing boat, left half-sunk and moored near the Tampa side of the Howard Frankland Bridge, has annoyed homeowners with a view of the bay since November 2018. It even endured a brief chapter as a political statement in August when someone scrawled “Trump = Evil” in red paint on its side. (The county painted over it a week later.)
Well, it’s gone now. Hillsborough County finally removed the boat on Tuesday.
The county hired TSI Disaster Recovery to tow the boat nearly five miles northwest to the Courtney Campbell boat ramp, said Robin Caton, Hillsborough’s manager of safety and special enforcement. They plan to cut the top off on Wednesday and then have the boat crushed.
To prepare, the crew spent last week working to get the boat afloat and anchored.
“They had to pump the water out and found a couple of areas where there were holes in the hull,” Caton said.
They attached float bags, using straps underneath to hold them in place, and plugged what they could of the holes. At about 7:30 a.m. this morning, the crew started towing it.
The derelict boat was owned by Joey Sirmans, who runs a local tree trimming business. He says he was trying to move the boat last year when it ran into problems. The state took Sirmans to court to get him to remove it, but he said the boat had deteriorated and he couldn’t afford the cost. In May, that responsibility was passed to Hillsborough County.
The county spent months preparing to apply for a grant from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to cover 75 percent of the expense, but Caton said they ran out of time as the end of the fiscal year loomed.
The boat’s removal cost the county $9,760 and will be billed to Sirmans, Caton said. If he doesn’t pay it, he won’t be able to register any vehicle — including a car or a boat — in the state of Florida.