The recovery of a derelict vessel last week from outside Apalachicola marked the debut of the new manager of the boat lift at the Mill Pond.

Michael Thrasher, owner of Apalachicola Marine Sales and Service, is about to ink an agreement with the city of Apalachicola to operate the boat lift, as well as to run his company out of the Harbormaster’s House, which had been the site of the offices of the St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Last week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) collaborated with the US Coast Guard and an Oil Spill Removal Organization (OSRO) to investigate a derelict vessel in the Brothers River. The Brothers River lies within the boundaries of Apalachicola Nation Estuarine Research Reserve and feeds into the Apalachicola River.

The vessel, M/V Good Times, was abandoned near Apalachicola, and was determined to contain about 250 gallons of fuel. The team consisting of Adam Davis, a NOAA science support coordinator; one Coast Guard representative; and four OSRO contractors from SWS Environmental Services successfully pumped out 250 gallons of fuel from the partially submerged vessel, preventing that fuel from leaking out into the surrounding ecosystem. 

The vessel itself was salvaged by Hull Environmental out of Panama City in a later operation.

“It’s real wide and three decks. They said it was tied to trees. He must have stayed in a lot of deep water and never hit bottom. He told me they tied it up too tight” said Thrasher. “I know there’s like 10 up there. They pumped it all up and got it floating. It took them 4 hours. Then it sunk again at the lift, and we pumped it out again and lifted it up and set it on the pad.”

Thrasher did not charge for lifting the boat out of the water, as a goodwill gesture. “The reason is it makes the city look good, it shows they’re willing to work with FWC and the derelict vessel program. And it will bring more business; I had quite an audience that night.”

Once the contract with the city is signed, Apalachicola will get one-quarter of all the lift fees, which will run $10 a foot for commercial fishermen, and $14 a foot for the general public. Thrasher will do all the maintenance on the yard, and will be able to operate a small ship store within the office space.

“There’s nobody there that sells the big thing for those fishing boats,” he said. “We’ll offer cleats and zincs and light bulbs for running lights, hydraulic hoses. And we’ll sell used boats, I restore a lot of classic boats too.”

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, a ship builder and Merchant Marine, Thrasher has a house at Shell Point in Wakulla County. He plans to be open five days a week, but will allow for use on weekends, provided the owner pays storage fees, which are generally $10 a day.

“If it’s just to change a propeller, you can leave them hanging over night,” he said.

The operation will be a full service repair yard, “painting, anything you want,” and the lift will be limited to vessels under 50 tons.