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Captain Jay Ordered to Move Boat; Deadline Is Today

In lieu of paying nearly $2,000 in fines for having his boat on the beach, a Pinellas County judge ordered Captain Jay to move his boat out of Gulfport waters by today.

John Burki, 66, known as Captain Jay, has until 5 p.m. Wednesday, to move his boat "Promise" from Gulfport waters, according to City Manager Jim O'Reilly.

On Thursday, Aug. 16, Captain Jay gave a guilty plea to 18 ordinance violations for having the grounded boat in the swim area of Gulfport Beach after Tropical Storm Debby.

Pinellas County Judge Patrick Caddell told Burki he can avoid the nearly $2,000 in fines if he moves his boat out of Gulfport waters within five days, according to City Manager Jim O'Reilly.

“I’m sure that the attorney representing him will be very disappointed if he does not follow through,” Mayor Mike Yakes said at Tuesday night's City Council Meeting.

O'Reilly says the harbormaster will check to see if the boat is still in Gulfport Wednesday evening. If the boat is not moved, O'Reilly will notify the judge and ask for a hearing in September.

"We just hope he complies," O'Reilly said.

The boat has been flagged as "at risk" for becoming a derelict boat, by the Gulfport Police Department. Burki has 90 days from his notice from police to bring his boat into compliance with the law.

Patch has attached the letter sent to Burki from police on August 3.

Currently the boat is anchored in the bay just beyond the buoys in Gulfport beach. Three weeks ago the boat was freed from the sand when a group of about 50 volunteers came out and pushed, pulled and lifted the boat out into the bay. Burki could not be there; he was recovering at Bay Pines VA Hospital

More on Patch

J Marie August 22, 2012 at 01:31 PM
I appreciate his service to our country and perhaps someone with a tow boat can get it off the waters of Gulfport. Wish it didn't have to be this way and hope he can keep his dream alive...... and find good health and peace. How's the puppy?
Phil August 22, 2012 at 01:52 PM
It's about time someone stepped up and did something about this boat, now if the city of Gulfport would get rid of all the other boats anchored in the bay, (I call them freeloaders). None of them pay a dime to the city for living in Gulfport and I hear some of them dump waste in our bay since some never move. Come on Gulfport kick them all out or make them pay a weekly fee for living on board.
Cherlene Willis August 22, 2012 at 01:56 PM
J Marie, When I spoke with Captain Jay yesterday he said he was taking in Dreamer today for a routine check up. Currently, Dreamer is still living with a friend of Jay's. If we hear anything else, we'll keep you posted. - Cherlene
Judy Dowling August 22, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I agree that there should be a charge for the boats that are anchored in Gulfport. We can not live in a home rent free, so what not charge rent to anchor a boat? We pay lights water, sewer, etc. This will help our city and keep our waterways clean and free from unwanted environmental waste. Although the authenicity of the boats are unique, they do not help Gulfport in any financial way. Judy
Bill Church August 22, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Phil - the state of Florida has anchoring laws which protect anchoring rights - the only way to charge is for Gulfport to install a mooring field. More important - there are federal and state laws regarding discharges - it is up to FLDEP, USCG, PCMP and Gulfport Marine Police to enforce these laws. USCG has the authority to inspect holding tank systems and fine accordingly - I strongly suspect that these existing laws are not being enforced. This is the legal/proper way to get rid of the derelicts - I agree they should go - as to the REAL cruisers - they spend $ locally and add to our economy - their boats are in compliance - they stay!!!
Bill Church August 22, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Re: Jay and his derelict boat - he is basically a homeless person living on a piece of junk - someone commented that he also owns another sailboat at anchor without a mast??? not confirmed. There is also a state law re: derelict boats - they are posted with a notice to move - and if they are not moved within the 90 day period provided by law the state will remove and destroy - then bill the owner of record for the expense. In Jay's case we the taxpayers will pay - he is destitute! All the authorities need to do is enforce existing laws - so why aren't they - good question!
BoozN August 22, 2012 at 09:59 PM
I agree Bill, they need to enforce the laws they have...not waste more money making new...and yes, most of those do come in and spend money LOCALY...and help keep this little place going...good question...
mtober August 23, 2012 at 02:08 AM
There are many retired people in this country that unfortunately only receive =/- $800 per month in disability and or Social Security--just like Mr. Burki. The difference between M.Burki and many of those people is that are responsible citizens, doing what they need to do to survive, including working. They are not owners of non seaworthy boondoggles, spending every afternoon in a bar looking to find their next freebie from the next sucker coming by!!
mtober August 23, 2012 at 02:11 AM
@Bill Church-- you are spot on regarding the lack of enforcement of ordinances. However, I think sometimes they City is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't in attempting to work with people to solve issues. Personally, I say enforce the laws as they are and let the chips fall where they may. If a Judge wants to make a deal as Caddell did in this case then so be it. Otherwise treat everyone the same and enforce the laws as they are written.
Bill Church August 23, 2012 at 03:11 PM
mtober - you are EXACTLY right - how do you pick and choose Who to enforce the ordinances on as written and who to cut a break - and why not enforce as written and leave it to a judge to rule - isn't that the definition of judge? Good insight!
Cherlene Willis August 23, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Just letting everyone know, I've contact the City Manager about an update. He is waiting to hear from the Harbormaster to get back to me about whether or not Captain Jay moved the boat by the deadline. - Cherlene
Cherlene Willis August 25, 2012 at 02:25 PM
I spoke with the City Manager Friday evening and he said Captain Jay did not move his boat out of Gulfport waters. The City Attorney will be contacting the judge.
Steve Smith August 25, 2012 at 04:33 PM
I spoke with Jay on Wed and Thurs by phone. I again encouraged him to arrange to have the boat towed to a boat yard on Salt Creek where it could be hauled out. I got the impression that Jay wants to cooperate with the demands and is simply trying to figure out how to get it done. In the last conversation with him, he told me that he was intending to call Salt Creek Marina to make arrangements to haul the boat. This was Thursday afternoon. I hope Mr. O'Riley and the city will, as they have previously, take into consideration Jay's age and psychical condition in their dealings with him. It seems to me that he is making an attempt to comply and to do the right thing. Perhaps if someone with the means to tow the boat offers their help to Jay it will expedite the matter. Also, if anyone brought line to help remove the boat from the beach on Aug 1. and didn't get it back yet, please contact me, There is a sizable pile of line still sitting on my porch and my wife is anxious to see it gone. Cherlene, if it's not too much trouble to put people in touch with me via email, would you please do so. Thank you. Steve Smith
Bill Church August 27, 2012 at 02:34 PM
mtober - good comment and again right on point - I was at the beach Sunday having my coffee and doughnuts and there was his boat - per state law it needs to be siezed and destroyed - it fits all the definitions of derelict and in truth should have been tagged long ago per existing state law.
Bill Church August 27, 2012 at 02:43 PM
As to state law re: derelict boats - it is very simple - the boat must have means of propulsion - meet all of the USCG regs - especially holding tank/discharge regs and not be abandoned. I was living on my boat in 2005 and spent 3 months on anchor @ Boot Key Harbor in Marathon. There were quite a frew 'tagged' boats there - just like Jay's and they were in the process of being siezed and removed. I got to know the Mgt of the muni marina there and they explained the process to me. As agents of the state our city authorities must do the same and clean up our waters. Real cruisers do not want to anchor in a junk yard of derelict boats that present hazards.

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