A future for end-of-life boats: A project from Flanders Circular and the Flemish Marina Nieuwpoort (Vlaamse Yachthaven Nieuwpoort)

The team at VY Nieuwpoort describes their battle to reduce the considerable marina costs generated by abandoned boats and seek a circular-economy solution for waste materials.

We are the Vlaamse Yachthaven Nieuwpoort, a Belgian coastal marina based on the Yzer estuary. We manage about 1000 wet berths with hard-standing space for 600 boats.  Together with our neighboring clubs, Nieuwpoort counts about 2000 wet berths; roughly half of the complete capacity at the Belgian coast. Consequently, our boatyard is fully-booked every winter, but from around 2014, we started to notice an increasing number of small boats remaining for longer than just one winter and starting to look abandoned. This is when we decided that we needed to take action.

Our first move was trying to contact the owners to discuss what to do with the boat, facilitating the means to sell their vessel for a reasonable price. This was occasionally an impossible task when owners were either unreachable or simply refused to address the issue. We eventually saw the need to adapt our marina rules and regulations in order to allow us to legally assume the right to handle the boat under certain reasonable conditions. It was a new and complicated process as we had our members’ interests at heart but also couldn’t afford to disregard the considerable safety risks, rising costs and unsightly aspect of these long-abandoned vessels.

With some boats needing scrapping, we started to work on a budget for this service so that we could also offer it to members. In the meantime, we also established an incremental fee system for boats staying longer than a year on the hard.

Together with Flanders Circular we launched a project entitled “a future for end-of-life boats”. This first involved assessing the number of abandoned yachts in marinas and service companies on the Flemish coast. We then set up an auction at our boat show to sell some of the abandoned yachts, scrapping those that couldn’t be sold. There were 18 boats with outstanding debts; 13 of which were sold during the auction, creating a final income of just €845 given the preparation cost for the auction (€1.433) and a total debt of these boats to the marina of €13.370. After the auction, 7 boats, including two boats which were paid for, were scrapped. The income of the two boats was €2.100, the cost of the scrapping for the boats was €9.760 and the total outstanding debt of these boats to the marina was €6.545.

As the numbers indicate, this isn’t a profitable business, but on the other hand we now have 20 extra places for boats on the hard, using the crane service.

Beyond scrapping, we are most motivated to find a recycling solution for polyester. The last two boats to be scrapped were brought to a shredder and with this shredded material, a company will make a beam which we hopefully can use in the marina. If this project succeeds, we can make a complete environmental circle. We expect the results in December 2019.


To contact the team at VY Nieuwpoort, write to info@vynieuwpoort.be