ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - Boat owner, Peter Welchman of Spring, Texas said, "The city was fabulous to me," He said, "Citizens lending tools, fuel support, it was great."
Initially, he told the Herald that he had heard someone claimed the boat. He was unable to say where he had heard this or who had claimed it. He went on to explain that maritime law states that anyone that touches the boat claims ownership.
When asked, "Who is the responsible party?", he responded, "I would imagine I am." He says, "I've done all I can. Sea Tow didn't want the liability to attach a line (to the boat)."
He said he does not have the money to retrieve the boat. Welchman said all he needed was someone to tow the boat 2/10th of a mile to Wagner's, but he was unable to find anyone willing to do the job. He claims it would cost about $4000 to salvage the boat and tow it to Wagners.
On March 21st, he and a companion had dropped anchor in the harbor, according to Welchman. "We ran over the anchor line and drifted into the rocks. This pushed both rudders up into the boat and water came in."
Mr. Welchman until recently lived in New York. He transferred to Texas in January for his job doing "sales on the internet". He had planned to motor the boat to Texas before the grounding. He said he did not have insurance because "Nobody in the State of New York would cover a wooden boat."
He said he is planning to come back to Atlantic Highlands to resolve the issues with the boat. For now, he is "hoping to find a solution so when I get there I can get some help."
He said getting access to the boat would be a problem. He would only be able to reach it during low-tide, he said. Otherwise, he would be trespassing if trying to salvage the boat from the top of the Seastreak pier, according to Welchman.
Sea Tow had estimated it would cost $8-10,000 to remove the boat by trailer, he said.
Welchman said, "I don't have $10,000. It is only a $3,000 boat." He paid $500 for the boat, in September 2015, from the Conley family, who had it for 38 years.