What the hull! Storm-swept garbage blocks in Shell Bank boats

Pond scum: Heavy rains and a high tide sent voluminous amounts of junk up water into Shell Bank Creek on Sunday, trapping boats at the docks behind several yards of garbage and debris.
Brooklyn Daily
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They’re really up a creek.

Last Sunday’s unusually high tide, strong wind, and torrential rains sent junk spewing into Shell Bank Creek, trapping boats and leaving locals shaking their heads at the sorry state of Jamaica Bay.

“Besides it being an eyesore, it’s a shame to anyone who lives on the water to have to witness something of this proportion,” said Charles Martinez, a retired sanitation worker and captain of the Sea Boot, which he docks at Shell Bank Yacht Club. “It’s a load of garbage, and we try to keep our waters clean.”

Much of the junk was left over from Hurricane Sandy, lodged on the bank near Plumb Beach Bridge and the mouth of Shell Bank Creek, until the weekend’s raucous seas loosened it, according to John Douglas, president of local community group Gerritsen Beach Cares.

“It had been deposited during Sandy and hadn’t been cleaned up,” said Douglas. “It was all dock pieces and things that were deposited in the tall grasses.”

Some of the debris likely came from regular old litterbugs and from sunken boats that litter the bay and which officials have been working to remove, according to Martinez.

“There’s a lot of plastic bags, a lot of flotation things from submerged boats, objects that come off of submerged boats that pop up, and a lot of it is from people who use the beaches and don’t clean up after themselves,” he said.

Douglas is interested in organizing a cleanup in light of the deluge of detritus, but said it will likely have to wait until the weather warms up.

“I’m sure we’d probably like to do something, but we’d have to do it in the spring time, because, right now, it’s a little too cold,” he said. “That had been our goal during the summertime, and we hadn’t managed to pull it together.”

Meanwhile, mariners will have to keep their eyes on the water as they’re taking their boats out, Douglas said.

“This is their play area — people are boating — and the last thing you want to do is drive down the canal into a log,” he said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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