Shipwreck Recovery on CELT Easement - Cape Elizabeth Land Trust


Shipwreck Recovery on CELT Easement

As many of you may have heard by now, just after midnight on Saturday, January 13, 2024, a 17-meter (~55-ft) fishing vessel was shipwrecked off the Cape Elizabeth coast. Given the rocks, the winds, and the time needed for another vessel to arrive, a standard rescue was deemed unsafe, so the Cape Elizabeth Water Extraction Team (WETeam) stepped in and heroically rescued the four crewmen aboard the Tara Lynn II.

Less well known is that this fishing vessel ended its journey on a parcel that is privately owned on which CELT holds a limited conservation easement. The easement from 1986 protects the natural, scenic and open space values of this half-acre parcel.

When CELT executive director David Briman heard about it, he visited the wreck site and connected with Parker Poole of Determination Marine LLC who was assessing the damage. Parker had already been in communication with the landowners, the rescue teams, the insurance company, and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to determine recovery options. Parker knows this area well, having grown up in Cape Elizabeth and having been inspired by his grandmother Vicky Poole. Vicky was an integral part of CELT’s founding in 1985 and stayed involved on our Advisory Council until her passing in 2018.

Over the next week, David and our stewardship manager Ardath Dixon kept open communication between the landowners and the recovery crew. Maine DEP visited the site on Tuesday, January 16 to assess the levels of contamination. They determined that the soils and plants had minimal contamination, and further chemical cleanup would not be necessary. While any large pollution spill is certainly a tragedy, the environmental silver lining here is that there was minimal damage to the landing site due to the type of fuel, the location of the spill, and the weather conditions at the time of the spill. (To find out more, visit NOAA Diesel Spill Info Sheet.)

Beginning on Thursday, January 18, Parker and his team removed all pieces of shipwreck material from the site over six days. They took extra care by implementing environmental safety-nets throughout the process, including floating barriers in the water for potential leaks or runaway pieces, and ground barriers between the machinery and the vegetation to allow for low-impact transport onsite. Maine DEP visited the site several times throughout the week, and confirmed on Friday, January 26 that they are pleased with the cleanup process, that it is deemed complete, and no further action is required.

This land is now free of rubble and has been restored to its beautiful, shipwreck-free status. Given the winter season, the plants remained dormant and are projected to fully grow again onsite come spring. This half-acre parcel will stay strong as a conservation asset with natural, scenic, and open space values, holding true to its protection from 1986.

The clean coastline, free of shipwreck materials.
Recovery site on Wednesday 1/24/24 with the vessel and rubble now completely removed.

Many thanks to the landowners, the vessel owner, the US Coast Guard, the Cape Elizabeth Water Extraction Team, Determination Marine LLC, the insurance company, the Cape Elizabeth Fire Department, the Cape Elizabeth Police Department, and the Cape Elizabeth Public Works Department for their help through this process.

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