Despite a judge’s order and boat owner Jay Burki’s lawyer’s assurances that he would, Mr. Burki has yet to move his boat Promise.
Last Thursday, Harbormaster Denis Frain checked to see if Mr. Burki had moved his sailboat out of Gulfport waters, as Judge Patrick Caddell instructed him to do on August 16.
Promise ran aground in early July – during Tropical Storm Debby – and stayed in the beach swim zone until volunteers moved it out of the sand and towed it away from the swim zone a month later.
Acting as the agent for Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Gulfport police have also cited the boat as being “at risk” for being designated a derelict vessel. Mr. Burki has until November 3 to bring the boat into compliance. If Burki moves the boat out of Gulfport water but does not address the issues that put Promise at risk for dereliction, the FWC could pursue derelict issues but Gulfport would no longer have jurisdiction, according to Gulfport city manager Jim O’Reilly.
Because Mr. Burki did not remove the boat from Gulfport waters, Judge Caddell will see him in court by September 6, at which time the city will ask Judge Cadell to allow it to take possession of the boat. If the judge agrees the city would tow it to the marina, to “remove the hazard,” according to Mr. O’Reilly. If Mr. Burki does not pay his fees by November 3 the Harbormaster Frain and the police will decide whether or not the boat fits the state description of “derelict vessel” and take action based on their findings. If Mr. Burki pays his storage fees and violations before November 3, he “can sail the boat away, if he’d like” Mr. O’Reilly said.
The city manager said he understands that Mr. Burki does not typify the average Gulfport boater.
“It’s a shame that Mr. Burki has put the boaters and sailors that we welcome to Gulfport in this light and cost the city so much time and money,” he said.