Newport Beach tried to auction a trio of uncommonly large impounded vessels this week that, despite their abundant character, got no bids.
After extended stays in Newport Harbor after becoming property of the city, the 77-foot motor yacht Energy Tech, the 35-foot fishing boat Espousa and the 41-foot sailboat Escape are now going to Davy Jones’ Locker. Or at least the scrapyard.
The city auctions its impounded vessels a few times a year. They’re usually small craft — dinghies and sabots, kayaks and paddleboards — of varied condition that had escaped their tie-outs and sat in lost-and-found before being sold off, often for less than $100.
Bidding for the three bigger boats in Tuesday’s auction was to start at $1,000. They clearly needed extensive restoration, did not appear seaworthy and their decks were laden with junk. A few people came out to look at them at a dock behind the Harbor Department’s Marina Park office, but none stayed to bid.
“One thousand going once,” auctioneer Jessica Allen, who works in mooring administration for the city, called out to the empty dock. “One thousand going twice.”
“Closed bid. Auction over.”
Assistant City Manager Carol Jacobs, who oversees the Harbor Department, said inventory occasionally doesn’t sell, and when that happens, the city gets quotes from vendors who will haul the boats away for destruction. It’s unclear what the vendors do with the remains.
Sometimes boats in the 35- to 40-foot range come up, but they tend not to sell, said Harbor Resources Manager Chris Miller. One boat in the 50-foot range has sold in the past five years.
Before they hit the anti-climactic auction block, Energy Tech, Espousa and Escape seemingly led a rich existence. Energy Tech was custom-made. The boom on Espousa’s bow indicated it was once used to catch swordfish by harpoon. The wooden Escape was homemade, and according to its weathered stern, Avalon on Catalina Island was once its home port.
Newport Beach inherited Energy Tech and Espousa from Orange County when the city took over mooring administration from the Sheriff’s Department Harbor Patrol in 2017.
The city couldn’t find Escape’s registered owner after trying to revoke its mooring permit this summer over the boat’s dilapidated condition.
The city’s next boat auction Dec. 31 will feature the usual small stuff.