By Maddy Vitale
Whenever Somers Point Council President Sean McGuigan would drive down Somers Point Mays Landing Road at the corner of Route 9, he would just say, “ugh,” he told City Council at a meeting Thursday night.
And it was because of an eyesore, a 17-foot fiberglass boat that had been stuck in the marsh for years – actually about a decade – was something you couldn’t miss.
Lisa Bender would drive by and as executive director of Patcong Creek Foundation she knew she and the volunteers had to do something.
And they did. After multiple attempts over the years to remove the boat, the tide turned. Well, the tide pushed the boat to the marshlands where it got stuck in the mud very close to Route 9, making it easy to see by motorists and other travelers, officials said.
Then, on Feb. 1, members of Patcong Creek Foundation and Great Egg Harbor River Council pulled the abandoned boat free from the marsh.
“It took about 40 minutes for seven of us to get it out of the marsh,” Bender recalled after the council meeting. “It felt good knowing that we removed the boat from the marsh. It was seven of us, but it really gave me a sense of community.”
But it wasn’t easy.
And on Thursday council recognized the volunteers with a resolution.
“Here you have volunteers remove a boat at no expense to the city. They did it for the sake of the environment,” Mayor Jack Glasser said. “I can’t say enough about the work of these volunteers. We owe them our gratitude.”
Councilman Ron Meischker, organizer of the crabbing tournament Assault on Patcong Creek, said the work to remove the boat was incredible, and vital to protecting the waterways.
Greg Gregory, chairman of Great Egg Harbor River Council, said the boat was a definite eyesore that the volunteers would find a way to move somehow.
“We talked about removing it for about four years,” he said adding that it was definitely rewarding to see how everyone came together to remove the boat.
“I thought this project made sense as it is our mandate to educate and protect this important natural resource,” Gregory had said prior to the meeting. “This was just another great opportunity for the community to come together and solve a problem.”
The volunteers lifted the boat from the mud using the steel poles and placed it on the PVC pipe that enabled the boat to slide up the hill with manpower and the towline, Bender said.
Once the boat was out of the marsh, the volunteers had to keep it steady as it was pulled along the sloped stretch of land little by little, as volunteers continually moved the PVC pipe along the path. The boat was towed and pushed for about a hundred feet until it was on level ground where it was left for pick up, Bender said.
“It was inspiring to witness the teamwork involved,” Bender said. “The Great Egg Harbor River Council and Patcong Creek Foundation have the same mission at their cores—protecting local waterways.”
Fred Akers, Brian Camp, and Paul Ludgate from the Great Egg Harbor River Council, along with Tom Dati and Jason Breslau were also involved in the removal of the wayward boat.
Akers called it a “fun, good deed.”
The City of Somers Point picked up the boat within the hour and brought it to the ACUA landfill for proper disposal, at no charge.