THE Dancing Dolphin yacht will remain as a looming wreck on Cooktown’s foreshore until the state government removes it after Maritime Safety Queensland took control of the vessel from the local owners.
MSQ general manager Kell Dillon said last week that negotiations were underway to transfer ownership from the owners to MSQ, but confirmed legal action was not off the table.
“MSQ is continuing investigations and assessing options, which includes possible prosecution,” Mr Dillon said.
The yacht was home to pensioners Rob and Gay McDonald for more than 20 years, but ran into trouble in February when it began taking on water.
The Cooktown Coast Guard dragged the crippled yacht to shallow water in the Endeavour River – next to the public boat ramp – where it has remained since for all to see.
The community rallied behind the McDonalds, who lost most of their worldly possessions when the boat went underwater, even providing them with a free car.
On the weekend, Ms McDonald said she and her husband went to the Cooktown Police Station on Friday to sign over the boat to MSQ.
“With the signing of the paperwork, MQS reserves the right to sue us for anything that may go wrong, including what may arise from issues outside of the current maritime law – according to the paperwork we signed,” she said.
Ms McDonald told Cape York Weekly that they had spent almost $4500 on repairs and had planned to float the boat on a recent high tide and return it to its mooring for repairs to the motor.
“MSQ rang us and said if you put that boat back on the mooring, we’ll sue you for everything you’ve got,” she said.
However, Mr Dillon said MSQ had been in frequent contact with the McDonalds over their plans for the yacht, and they had been issued a notice to remove it from the water.
“MSQ determined it could not be made seaworthy again unless it was first removed. The owners were unable to comply with the written notice and MSQ began a process to take possession of the vessel,” he said.
“When this has been completed, MSQ can arrange a contract for its removal.”
Mr Dillon said unseaworthy vessels posed a risk to marine safety and the environment.
Ms McDonald said the couple now had plans to buy a caravan and travel.