Port of Port Townsend dilemma: One old boat ready to be moved, another behind on rent
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Back rent again cloaks the Western Flyer, which once carried acclaimed author John Steinbeck to the Gulf of California in Mexico. —Photo by Charlie Bermant/Peninsula Daily News

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

PORT TOWNSEND — The owner of a boat on which a September fire originated has agreed to move it out of the Port Townsend Boat Haven, while the owner of another boat in the yard linked to author John Steinbeck again has fallen back on rent.

Earlier this fall, the Port of Port Townsend sent an eviction notice to the owner of the Treasure Hunter, Karen Broome of Brinnon, saying she had violated her agreement with the port and had caused a safety hazard to other boats in the area.

The port also had begun eviction proceedings for the Western Flyer when the owner, Gerry Kehoe of Salinas, Calif., caught up with rent payments in October.

Kehoe did not make the scheduled $2,000 rent payment Nov. 20, according to Deputy Port Director Jim Pivarnik last week, which again started the clock for the eviction process.

The one-month eviction notice that the port gave Broome followed the investigation of a fire that broke out on the boat Sept. 27 and damaged nearby boats in the Port of Port Townsend Boat Haven.

Broome, who at first said she would contact an attorney, has agreed to move the vessel, according to Pivarnik.

She missed the deadline but has said she will move the boat as soon as possible, Pivarnik said.

Broome was not insured at the time of the fire and said she planned to make restitution to other boat owners but had not done so by the time of the eviction notice.

Broome was not available for comment last week.

The incident called attention to the port’s policy of not requiring insurance. That policy is not likely to change, Pivarnik said.

“Any policy change would kill the boat yard,” he said. “Many of them can’t afford the insurance.

“It needs to be self-policing,” Pivarnik added. “At the end of the day, everyone is responsible for their own boat.”

Pivrnik said that port plans to step up enforcement of the limit on the time a boat can be in the boat yard: six months at a time with two three-month extensions allowed.

“A lot of people have been here two years and that will change,” Pivarnik said.

The Western Flyer, which served as a backdrop for John Steinbeck’s The Log From the Sea of Cortez, was the subject of a down-to-the-wire rent dispute between the port and Kehoe.

No rent had been paid on the vessel since it was brought into the Boat Haven in July, so on Oct. 20, the port was ready to begin eviction proceedings.

On that date, Kehoe sent the port a $10,099 check for the rent. The port forgave late fees.

When the payment was missed, the port begins the eviction process again.

After 90 days of nonpayment, a boat tenant is given an additional 90 days to come up for the funds or the port will auction the vessel, with costs deducted from the required boatyard deposit.

Kehoe put down a $25,000 deposit in July but that cannot be directly applied to rent.

Skipping payments for several months and paying back rent all at once is not unique, Pivarnik said.

“I wish that I could say that [Kehoe] was the only one doing this, but it happens a lot,” Pivarnik said.

Kehoe did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment last week.

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Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or cbermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 01. 2013 7:22PM
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