Seacoast officials say unwanted 'Guest' boat to be moved soon
The Guest List remains grounded in the salt marsh off Tuttle Avenue. (RYAN O'CONNOR/Union Leader Correspondent)
Michael Wheeler, co-owner of Hampton Harbor Boatworks, said his company received a check Monday from one of the owners of the “Guest List,” a 70-foot unmanned boat, which has been grounded in a salt marsh near Tuttle Avenue since January. The funds will be used to facilitate the removal and repair of the boat, he said.
Jim Patenaude, the other owner of Hampton Harbor Boatworks, had secured storage for it at one spot, but Wheeler said that agreement fell through.
Of course, rumors about the boat have been rampant since it was first discovered floating in the Hampton River last fall. Some said it was a ghost ship. Others claimed the boat was used for filming pornography, and others still insist it was used for drug running or sneaking illegal immigrants into the country. The most popular rumor, according to Hampton homeowner Alicia Preston, was the boat was set to be blown up as part of a Denzel Washington movie being filmed at Salisbury Beach.
The boat now rests about 80 feet from Preston’s 25 Tuttle Avenue home, and she said it’s long past due to be towed away.
Right now, the Guest List remains firmly grounded, but a tropical storm or hurricane could spell significant danger for Preston’s home, she said.
“It’s too close for comfort,” she said. “I grew up in this house, and I’ve seen giant docks and all kinds of other stuff come up (with the storm surge). This is a big boat. It’s taller than my house, and it could certainly do significant damage.”
“I don’t know for the life of me how you can have something dumped in a wetland and then say it has to stay there because (the owners) don’t have money,” she said. “If I had a trailer and I accidentally dumped it in a marsh, I’m pretty sure someone else would haul it out and then I’d get a fine.”
“We’ve been working closely with DES (Department of Environmental Services) and Hampton Harbor Boatworks to try to get this thing squared away,” he said. “It’s not a lack of willingness or effort. The problem is there are very few places that can accommodate that boat, and the bad press is scaring a lot of people away. It’s a physical logistical problem.”
Among alternate ideas that have been floated, Wheeler said a local company has offered to sink the boat off the cost of Hampton and use it as an artificial reef, where tourists can fish, snorkel and swim, though he noted significant hurdles with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) exist with that plan.
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