An excavator armed with giant shears rips into the Miss China as the demo begins. Photo/New England Boating, Tom Richardson

An excavator armed with giant shears rips into the Miss China as the demo begins. Photo/New England Boating, Tom Richardson

In July 2011, I witnessed the demolition of the Miss China, a 67’ former commercial fishing boat with an interesting history. In 2010, the wood-hulled/fiberglassed-sheathed former shrimper was serving as the floating home of Nantucket scalloper Joe Dooley and his 4 dogs—until she broke free of her mooring in Nantucket Harbor in a December gale and grounded on Brant Point.

It was all very interesting, although I have to admit to feeling a twinge of sadness as the Miss China was reduced to a pile of lumber in a matter of hours.

Since Dooley apparently didn’t have the funds to pay for the removal of his boat, the town of Nantucket took possession and paid Fairhaven, Massachusetts-based Tucker Roy Marine Towing and Salvage to tow her to New Bedford. Once there, the Miss China sat on a mooring in New Bedford Harbor for the next 7 months while any remaining fuel, oil and pollutants, along with salvageable rigging and other items, were removed from the ship.

In mid-July 2011, the 180-ton boat was towed to Fairhaven Shipyard, where it was placed in a hopper barge. Once the ship was secured with boat stands, the barge was moved via tug to a location just north of the Route 6 swing bridge on the New Bedford side of the harbor.

The next day I visited the site and watched as Jonny Roy expertly dismantled the ship with an excavator equipped with a massive pair of hydraulic shears, assisted by his older brother, Conrad Jr. While I’ve seen numerous boats being constructed, this was the first time I’d witnessed the “de-construction” of a vessel. Jonny was amazingly skillful, carefully opening the side of the ship and using the shears to pick up fuel tanks, a generator and even the ship’s wheel.

It was all very interesting, although I have to admit to feeling a twinge of sadness as the Miss China was reduced to a pile of lumber in a matter of hours. After all, a boat is more than the sum of its parts—it contains the experiences and memories of those who crewed aboard the vessel, as well as storms endured and various ports of call visited.

Then again, maybe it was just an old rustbucket that smelled of dog.

Video: How to Demolish a Boat

Read the original article on New England Boating.

 

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