A half-sunken historic boat is floating between Canadian and American waters with no one accepting responsibility for the vessel.
“It’s very similar to a person in an airport without a passport,” said Adam Coolidge, owner of Cold Water Divers.
The 89-year old Norwester has been slowly sinking since it hit rocks near Stuart Island on April 17.
And for two weeks, it’s been bobbing back and forth between Canada and the United States, the tide taking it from Canadian waters Monday morning, to American waters by afternoon.
“From my point of view it seems like the owners are dragging their feet and are going to let it sink, but that’s only my hypothesis,” said Coolidge.
CHEK News reached out to the organizers of the Norwester Foundation, but haven’t heard back. However, a GoFundMe has been started, hoping to raise $1.5 million to get the boat out of the water, and restored back to its glory.
And there is some glory to be remembered.
Built in 1932, the Norwester served in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War.
It also had a famous owner: actor John Wayne.
After years of restoration work, the Norwester Organization says they had planned high-end charters, with 100 per cent of the proceeds to go to the John Wayne Cancer Foundation.
Now, the boat is on life support, with international organizations waiting to see who acts first.
Both the U.S. and Canadian Coast guards say they are aware of the situation.
“It is considered to be a hazard to navigation, but not a risk to pollute. If the vessel drifts into Canadian waters, the Canadian Coast Guard may look to retrieve it and secure it to mitigate the hazard,” the Canadian Coast Guard said to CHEK News in a statement.
Meanwhile, the American Coast Guard told CHEK News it is working with the owner to retrieve the vessel, leaving the contractors like the Cold Water Divers on standby.
“Basically this boat is a hazard to navigation and it’s taken a while for the Americans to come deal with this,” said Coolidge.
As of May 1, after finding out the keel is no longer intact, the Norwester Foundation says it doesn’t believe the boat is capable of restoration.
“Litigation with insurance will determine what salvaging will be done,” said fundraiser organizer Rick Rutherford on the boat’s GoFundMe.