The state of Michigan leads the nation in the number of boat registrations. That makes sense, considering the state is surrounded by the great lakes. Although I don’t know how many are registered in Detroit, I do know the river and the lower portion of Lake St. Clair are active these summer months with sailboats, fisherman in small boats drifting with the current and other pleasure craft powering their way through the waters. On my two-wheel travels I also see that the harbors along both East and West Jefferson Avenue are filled close to capacity with hardly an open slip available.
But there’s a group of other boats I’ve seen while pedaling through some of the little used waterfront parks, sparsely populated streets and near the weed choked lots of Detroit. These boats are dry-docked, but not in the normal winterized way within a secured area, waiting for summer to hit so owners can get them back in the water. The boats I see have been stripped of their mechanicals and dumped to rot in those areas, and others in places such as neighborhoods or inside abandoned factories scattered across the eastside.
I started noticing a few of these discarded hulks last summer in a park along the Detroit River and in a couple of vacant lots somewhat close to the river. Compared to last year, I’ve noticed a significant increase in boat abandonment. What surprises me is where I’m seeing them this year. In the past, I’d spot them in isolated fields or other out-of-the-way areas, like a secluded alley full of overgrown plants. But now, I have literally seen them in front of me, in the streets and in the tall brush lining the streets I’ve ridden, creating quite an eyesore. These boats were obviously trucked or placed on a trailer and transported to the illegal dumpsite. What a shame that some people think that Detroit is their dumping ground for unwanted boats!