It's been over a year now that Destin resident Nick Jazayeri has noticed the abandoned sailboat named "JoJo" anchored about 700 yards from the bay line of Indian Trail.
"It just showed up one day and was never attended to by its owner again," he said.
As the winter months arrived, the boat drifted west toward Jazayeri's home until one windy morning when it stopped at his dock.
"One morning I heard a sound outside the back of my house that was unfamiliar," he explained. "I looked outside to JoJo banging against the side of my boat dock and the seawall."
After Jazayeri made calls to local officials about the derelict sailboat, he found that there was little that could be done.
"I first called the Coast Guard," he said. "They asked if anyone was on the boat. I told them 'No' and they said there was nothing they could do about it. 'Call the Sheriff's Department.'"
An officer was sent to Jazayeri's that morning, but found that the boat was not registered to anyone and offered to call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
FWC created the At-Risk Vessel Program in 2010. The program aims to reduce the number of derelict vessels in Florida waterways and has been shared with 59 other law enforcement agencies throughout Florida. According to City of Destin, all reports of derelict boats are sent to FWC.
"There's a significant level of coordination between the state and city," said Ken Gallander, Destinís community development director. "It can take some time to get the approval. Once the state approves it, boats can be removed by whatever means possible."
But that still means plenty of waiting for residents like Jazayeri.
"I asked to see if someone could tow it away from my dock because it was banging on it violently, mildly damaging it," Jazayeri said. "He told me I was allowed to secure the boat so it did not damage my dock."
Jazayeri tied the boat to his dock for the day, but never heard back from the Sheriff's Office or FWC, so he was forced to tow the sailboat back to the bay with his own boat and reset its anchor. When winter was over, the boat shifted and finally sank, Jazayeri told The Log.
"In February, I paddled out to it and saw a notice was posted by Florida Wildlife stating something like 'Remove this boat by 10 days or it will be confiscated,'" he said. "It has been there ever since, still shifting around the east and west a little. A private boater attempted to tow it out of the area a few months ago with no success."
Now, with the boat about four feet above the water and three feet submerged in the water, Jazayeri is concerned about the possible hazards "JoJo" could cause.
"Boaters at night-time will not see the boat and ram it," he said. "There are no lights or reflectors on the boat. It is a very big hazard for night time boaters who are not familiar with it. Multiple people by boat or WaveRunners stop by it every day to check it out. Some people climb aboard to get a closer look."
Currently, JoJo is the only reported derelict vessel in Destin, with seven overall listed in Okaloosa County. Florida has no salvage laws, giving finders of abandoned vessels rights of ownership. Should you need to report a derelict vessel, FWC advises boaters to contact law enforcement first.
"Florida is plagued with many abandoned vessels," reads the FWC website. "These vessels become derelict vessels quickly and then subject the boating public to safety issues, become locations for illegal activity, illegal housing, opportunities for theft and vandalism and ultimately cost the taxpayers to be removed by local, county or state authorities."
For more information on derelict vessels, visit myfwc.com.