After several stalled removal attempts and more than two years after it sank, the Lady Grace is coming out of the Hoquiam River, in pieces.
Since the 80-foot fishing vessel sank off the end of Karr Avenue, just north of Al’s Hum-Dinger restaurant, in March 2018, several attempts have been made this year to lift the wood-hulled boat off the bottom. Initial plans had the vessel being winched whole out of the river and barged to the Quigg Bros. yard in Aberdeen for recycling, but the vessel was tangled up with another sunken vessel and raising her wasn’t happening.
Wednesday morning, a barge carrying a crane with a clamshell bucket was picking away at the Lady Grace. A boom had been set up downriver to collect floating debris and to try to contain whatever fuel and oil was still onboard, as well as whatever was released from the muddy river bottom as the vessel was brought up in pieces. At times, larger sections of the vessel were visible above the surface, but mostly it was sections of wood hull, metal fittings and wire and rope coming out a bucket at a time.
The Lady Grace is one of eight vessels that have gone down in the river off property owned by Mart Liikane since July 5, 2017, the latest being a sailboat that had been tied to pilings just upriver of the Lady Grace in early March.
The Grace in November of last year qualified for a chunk of funding approved by the Legislature for large derelict vessel removal through the Department of Natural Resource’s Derelict Vessel Program, which will pay 100% of the cost associated with removal. The other vessels, due to factors ranging from their size to ownership of the riverbanks where they sank, have not qualified for state funding for removal.