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See ya: Derelict boat off Howard Frankland Bridge finally removed

The boat was an eyesore to those who live off Tampa Bay. Then it became a political statement. Now it’s been towed and will soon be crushed.
Nearly a year after it was left abandoned and half-sunk off the Tampa side of the Howard Frankland Bridge, a salvage crew finally raised and towed the Moonraker II to the Courtney Campbell boat ramp. It is slated to be crushed. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Published Oct. 15
Updated Oct. 15

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.

RELATED: Remember that derelict boat off the Howard Frankland? Now it has anti-Trump graffiti.

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.

A derelict boat left abandoned for months near the Tampa side of the northbound Howard Frankland Bridge has finally been removed. But in August the Moonraker II was used as a political statement when someone spray-painted "Trump = Evil" on it. [Times]

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.

RELATED: Remember that derelict boat off the Howard Frankland Bridge? It’s still there.

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.

Nearly a year after it was left abandoned and half-sunk off the Tampa side of the Howard Frankland Bridge, a salvage crew finally raised and towed the Moonraker II to the Courtney Campbell boat ramp. It is slated to be crushed. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
Tampa neighbors Elaine Prevatt, left, and Arnold Hubbard sit in the back yards of their coastal properties, in front of the unwelcome visitor to their neighborhood. The Moonraker II was left derelict, stuck on a sandbar just off the Tampa entrance of the northbound Howard Frankland Bridge, obstructing their view of Tampa Bay. The boat has finally been towed.

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