Editor's columnRobin Copeland

Street boats

Have you noticed how suburban streets are increasingly being used as permanent parking for trailer boats, ask Afloat reader Gary Jackson. The first one appears in your street, probably an entry-level concave-bowed tinnie with a 60hp outboard on the back, and its presence attracts another, and then another.
Before long, several kerbside parking spaces are permanently unavailable as boats, in their tightly-tied faded covers, sit for weeks gathering leaves and waiting in vain for their owners to creep around the corner and hook them up to the towball.
Chances are the owners of these street-boats most likely have nowhere else to put them, having not properly thought through the realities and obligations of boat ownership in the brand-new glistening gelcoat excitement of the showroom.
Most boats are looked after at clubs, marinas or dry-stack facilities, while others at least live at home with their owners. The wretched street boats aren’t so lucky. They do it tough between infrequent outings, and they show it. There’s little if any care or maintenance apparent and no protection against vandalism – insurance companies would cringe.
There should be a requirement for new boat buyers to prove that the boat they are about to buy will be properly berthed. The buyer must be able to make it quite clear where the new boat will be kept … “in the street” will not be an option.
And, as Japan does with old motor vehicles, maybe an off-the-water levy be introduced for street orphans.
Unseaworthy? Rust? Osmosis? Corrosion? Etc? Any failure will force the street-boat’s owner (if they can be traced) to hand over the keys and forfeit the craft. If the owner cannot be contacted, one of several Maritime-funded gathering units will collect your former property, now deemed rubbish, from the street and recycle it as far as possible.
A harsh end perhaps, but at least the street boats would be gone from the scene and street-parking improved.
Perhaps the scheme could be extended to mooring minders. A discretionary ‘restoration order’ could be issued to owners requiring they be duly restored … more work for our shipwrights.
Now there’s an idea … periodic safety inspections of poorly maintained boats.
With such a maintenance program, had it been part of government policy in the early days, there would have been no need to rebuild the Endeavour, the James Craig would never have been allowed to decay into that shameful mud-bank bound state, and the poor old Polly Woodside might not be sitting, with its guts full of concrete in the front yard of Melbourne’s new Convention Centre.
And we’d still have the old Manly Ferries bustling around the harbour.
Robin Copeland