Another new patrol boat? Sheriff gets green light on purchase

If buying a brand new, 26-foot custom-built boat for just $35,000 sounds like a good deal to you, well, you're not alone.

The San Juan County Council gave a green-light to the Sheriff's Department July 15 on the purchase of a new 26-footer, which, according to Sheriff Rob Nou, will most likely replace the 19-foot boat now stationed on Lopez or the department's 26-foot Boston Whaler.

The majority of the boat's actual purchase price—estimated at roughly $229,000—will be paid for by federal grants, which, Nou said, leaves the department with about $35,000 to chip in toward the purchase.

"I'd say it's absolutely a great thing to do at minimal local expense," he said.

Approval of the purchase comes nearly a month to the date that the sheriff's department acquired a new, custom-built, 38-foot all-purpose public safety boat, equipped with three times the fire-fighting capacity of San Juan Island Fire Department's fireboat, Confidence, for roughly $600,000, paid for by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant.

Nou said the final cost of the newly acquired "Sentinel" was about $96,000 less than had been allotted for by that grant and that the department will be able to use the remainder, along with a new and separate $100,000 federal "Stone Garden" grant, to cover the bulk of the department's newest boat acquisition. Like the Sentinel, the 26-foot will be built from the ground up by Burlington-based Munson Boats.

The sheriff's department now operates and maintains a fleet of four boats, in all: Sentinel, Guardian, the 25-year-old Boston Whaler and the 19-foot boat now stationed on Lopez. Once training for the Sentinel is complete, it is expected to be home-ported in Friday Harbor and the Guardian, a 32-footer acquired in 2005 for $260,000, is expected to be transferred to Orcas Island.

Nou said the department faced a deadline of the end of July to place an order with Munson for construction of a new 26-foot boat. The federal grant that funded purchase of the Sentinel was also due to expire at the end of August, he said.

If all goes according to plan, the boat now stationed on Lopez will likely be turned over to the county ER&R department, and then be available for use by various county departments, such as Parks, Public Works or the Assessor. The Boston Whaler may end of sold as surplus equipment, Undersheriff Bruce Distler said.


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