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Abandoned sailboat removed from Indian River

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BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - Crews removed an abandoned, submerged sailboat from the Indian River on Friday that for years had been a hazard to boaters in the area.

One down, 30 more to go.

 Brevard County officials would like to remove all of them, but it only has the money to remove half.

 Friday’s boat removal cost about $4,500. But removing all 30 boats would cost just under $60,000, county officials said.

The abandoned boats in waterways around the county pose a hazard because they are hidden just below the water’s surface.

 “It raises concerns,’’ resident Paul Moore told WFTV’s Melonie Holt. “People not being able to see it. People have kids on their boat and things like that.’’

 Matt Culver, of Brevard County Natural Resources Management, said officials are targeting abandoned vessels for removal that pose the most danger.

 The removal is paid for with grant money from the Florida Inland Navigation District from money derived from boat registration fees. The county works with state wildlife officials and the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office to track down boat owners who abandoned their vessels. But Culver said that’s not always easy.

 “Someone may buy a boat from you and may never tell the DMV, and they may sell it to someone else, who sells it to someone else and it ends up sunk like these boats out here,’’ Culver said.

 Investigators were able to track down one boat owner recently. He's headed to court next week, where the county will try to recoup $6,500 which it would like to use to remove more boats.