Tony Toxopeus poses with the damaged 'Being There' during salvage efforts off White Rock's shoreline.

Tony Toxopeus poses with the damaged 'Being There' during salvage efforts off White Rock's shoreline.

Peninsula salvage team avoids troubled waters

Diesel spill ‘imminent,’ had team of South Surrey/White Rock residents not acted prior to storm

A sailboat grounded on White Rock’s west beach by a storm three weeks ago has finally been salvaged.

The 14-hour operation was carried out last week by a team of four Peninsula residents, including a Surrey fire chief and a retired Coast Guard captain.

The latter, Tony Toxopeus, who is now a marine surveyor, said he took on organizing the job after a number of salvage companies declined due to weather conditions and location of the vessel.

“This boat kind of bothered me,” the longtime area resident explained. “The night we towed it out, another big storm came through. (If it had still been grounded), it would’ve punched the fuel tanks out of it and then we would’ve had diesel oil all over the beach.

“I wanted to get it off the beach.”

The boat – dubbed ‘Being There’ – washed up on the local shoreline last month after breaking away from where it had been anchored off Sucia Island, in Ewing Cove, on Feb. 16.

Toxopeus said he was told the U.S. Coast Guard had assisted after the vessel went aground and broke a rudder. It was tied to a mooring buoy in the cove and was to be picked up by a salvage boat the next day, he said.

“That night… the line that held the boat to the mooring buoy let go.”

Toxopeus figured Being There washed ashore locally four or five hours later.

The salvage work started last Tuesday with an effort to locate the hole in the 34-foot Catalina sloop’s hull. When that was unsuccessful, the team – which included Ray Drope, Alex Bobsien and Dylan Toxopeus – returned the next day.

At that point, the craft was underwater. They rolled the boat to expose its badly damaged port side, then – when the tide dropped – pumped it out and patched the holes.

It righted itself as the tide came in, and the team was able to pull it out from the boulders that surrounded it and tow it to Blaine, where it was lifted out of the water on Thursday.

Toxopeus said the job would’ve been much easier in the first day or two after the sailboat ran aground. And, damage to the vessel would have been significantly less, he said.

“The boat should’ve come off the day after it went aground and it probably would’ve been about a $10,000 claim. But because the boat took so long to get off, now it’s a complete write-off. The insurance company’s going to be out $75,000-plus.

“The best thing is nobody got hurt, no pollution.”