KODIAK — The City of Kodiak is attempting to deal with a 124ft problem that is sitting in its shipyard: The former “floating strip club”, P/V Wild Alaskan. The vessel was impounded on Dec. 20, 2017, and has been held in the Kodiak Shipyard ever since. In early August, the city began advertising the vessel as available for purchase by the highest bidder, but received no bids.
“Nobody wants it,” said city manager Mike Tvenge. “If you look at it, it’s in need of repair. That’s part of the reason why it was pulled out of the harbor.”
Notices of the sale were hung at City Hall, in the Harbor Office, at the Post Office and were printed in the newspaper.
“It was required to go out for a 30 day period, which ended on September 7,” said Harbormaster Derrik Magnuson. “We had two inquiries, but no one actually turned in a bid after they inquired about it.”
Magnuson opined that the lack of interest is due to a number of factors. First off, it’s a large vessel which requires repairs. But magnuson also explained that the vessel is a “crab buyback boat,” which means it’s not allowed to be used in commercial fisheries. This status limits it to use as a research boat or a pleasure craft.
“Most people buying a boat like that, would want to buy it for fishing,” he said.
There are other issues that complicate the situation.
“It’s not even federally documented anymore, it’s just got AK registration now,” said Magnuson. “It’s a harder process to get a vessel re-documented. That’s why no one ever lets their documentation lapse.”
According to Tvenge, the few inquiries that the city received were made by individuals who were more interested in specific parts of the vessel.
“The people that were interested, were interested in individual items on the boat,” he said. “There’s a crane on there – somebody wanted the crane.”
Following these inquiries, the city is now considering parting the boat out for sale. There may, however, be issues with that process too. According to Tvenge, there are currently two liens on the vessel, held by Darren Byler (the former owner) and Calvin Wilson, which prompted the city to consult with its attorney on the feasibility of selling it in parts.
Even if the city finds that it is able to part out the vessel, it would potentially be left with a pile of scrap metal and machinery at the end of the process
“The question will be, if we part it out, what’s going to be left?” said Tvenge. “Is it just going to be a shell?”
While the future of the vessel remains uncertain, in the meantime the city has been spending money to keep the vessel in the shipyard.
“It was impounded and Darren Byler still had the opportunity to pay his fines and come and collect it,” said Tvenge “So we had to heated, we had to keep surveillance on it. We put a lot of investment in it, to make sure we didn’t ruin the boat.”
Tvenge said he was unsure of the exact cost to the city of keeping the vessel in the shipyard, saying “it’s thousands of dollars.”
Harbormaster Derrik Magnuson’s estimate, however, was much larger.
“December 21st will be one year that we’ve had it in the shipyard,” he said. “I’m fairly certain it’s over a hundred thousand dollars that’s it’s already cost the city.”
Beyond the cost of maintaining the vessel and keeping it secure, Magnuson noted that it’s taken up a space that a customer could have paid to use.
While Tvenge said that he is unsure whether the city will recuperate its expense, he said that the cost of leaving it in the water could have been greater.
“If that had sunk in the harbor, just think of the pollution,” said Tvenge. “What was the alternative?”
“What I don’t want to do is continue to store it another winter,” he added. “So I hope we can come to some closure on this thing.”
Darren Byler was not immediately available for comment.