SOS! Capt. Jay's Beached Boat Needs Volunteers

Volunteers are asked to show up on Wednesday, at 8 a.m., to help pull Captain Jay's boat off of Gulfport Beach. It was washed ashore during Tropical Storm Debby a month ago.

Stranded by Debby

Tropical Storm Debby's wrath shredded docks, eroded beaches and washed several boats ashore.

John Burki's boat "Promise" ran aground during the storm and has been stuck on Gulfport Beach for more than a month, according to FOX 13 News.

Call for Help

According to the report, John Burki, known as Captain Jay, and Steve Smith are asking anyone able to help, to come out on Wednesday, at 8 a.m., and pull the boat off the beach.

Smith told FOX 13 News that they need equipment and an army of volunteers to make it work. He said the boat will have to be emptied, the keel will need to be dug out and then the boat has to sit on it's side on planks to be pulled out.

Organizers are trying to save the boat because "Promise" is Captain Jay's home. Jay told reporters that he has all the comforts of home on that boat.

Smith told FOX 13 News, "It's not going to serve anybody's purpose to cut this guy's boat up and put him on the streets."

Organizers have set up a Facebook page called "Gulfport Beach - Community Yacht Rescue" for more information.

According to the Facebook Page volunteers removed "2 tons of 'stuff' off the boat" already, in preparation for tomorrow's volunteer event.

Move it or lose it

This huge call for help coincides with the deadline the City of Gulfport has given Burki. City officials say having the boat stuck on the beach is a violation of city code. According to City Manager Jim O'Reilly Burki was given until August 1st to get the boat off the beach or have the city remove it.

Code Violations

Gulfport Police Chief Robert Vincent says Burki has received numerous violations and has 30 days from his first violation to pay the fine or request a hearing through the Pinellas County Court. Vincent says although the boat has been there for about a month, they gave Burki a warning at first and then began ticketing him about two weeks ago.

Police Prepared

Vincent is expecting a very large turnout tomorrow and says they will have officers on hand for safety reasons.

“I want to make sure that people understand, our first concern is safety and if we see anything that is dangerous, we’re going to intervene and put a stop to it.”

“It’s not because we don’t support the cause,” Vincent said.

Vincent also says two officers will be stationed on the beach and two will be in the department's boat as part of the Marine Unit. He also says someone with either the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission or the Environmental Protection Agency will be on hand in case there are any state violations to address.

Besides safety, Vincent's main concern tomorrow is the activity in the swim zone. Officers will not allow boats inside the buoys on Gulfport Beach.

"Boats cannot be driving up and down the beach in the swim area," Vincent said.

Vincent says some of these prohibited activities could have been allowed had organizers gone to the Gulfport City Council and asked for variances.

“They would have had to ask for permission from the council to get waivers of ordinances,” he said.

Barbara Purtee August 01, 2012 at 10:40 AM
Is there anyway inflatables could be used to lift the boat a bit? Inflate after attaching to each side?
BoozN August 01, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Yes there are devices that wrap around the hull and then inflate and raise...that was needed to be done before it got worked into the beach...
Joyce Kwasiborski August 01, 2012 at 05:36 PM
What time does this begin?
Don Frank August 01, 2012 at 08:17 PM
I'm a Home Depot customer. I asked the store manager for a pump to blow sand off the keel so with other help she could be floated off. The district manager approved. H/D generouslydonated about 6 days rent free. I strongly believe that she would still be stuck without that pump. They even offered a 2nd one if needed. With about 60 volunteers pushing & pleasure boats pulling she is afloat in deeper waters as of 1330. Captain Jay, a disabled Navy vet with very low income and his dog Dreamer live aboard. I told H/D getting promise off the sandbar qualifies as home improvement. They agreed.
Kim Osborne August 01, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Hi I'm owner of Kim's Marine Canvas and have worked on boats for 25 years.I am always impressed to see how boaters come to the rescue of others.I was deeply touched to see the outpouring of support from the community to help solve this problem.There were people coming with items to help from all over.Smokin J's donated a table full of lunch.The Gulfport Hardward store donated stuff to help.Most impressive to me is the help that Steve Smith,his wife Jen(who happens to be my bff),her sisters and their friends who worked hard for 5 days to correct this problem.They closed the rigging business for 3 days losing hundreds of dollars in income. Thank you to all those who helped.
Cherlene Willis August 01, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Hello everyone! I just spoke with Jennifer Smith (Steve's wife)! She wants to thank everyone who came out and to let everyone know that their goal was accomplished today. Jay's boat is anchored in the bay waiting for him when he checks out of the VA hospital. I'll have video and interviews on the site tomorrow. Thanks everyone, Cherlene
Cherlene Willis August 01, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Don, It was great meeting you today! Thanks so much for sharing your story and how Home Depot stepped up to help with today's effort. Stay tuned for the video tomorrow on the website. - Cherlene
mtober August 02, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Kudos to Steve Smith and his team!! Steve Smith also told the Gabber... "I hope that this man never gets back on the boat," Smith, who organized the salvage operation, told reporters. "I don't want to disparage anybody, but the owner of that boat was not a responsible boat owner." It would appear that Mr. Smith confirmed what many others have been saying for some time.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something