The High Roller, a dilapidated boat abandoned in a marina along San Diego Bay, is no more.

The boat was removed to be demolished after a Voice of San Diego story highlighted it and other overlooked pollution problems along the city’s waterfront.

Our May story followed Gale Filter, executive director of San Diego Coastkeeper, on one of his routine pollution patrols through the bay. Filter told us he’d routinely seen boat owners sanding or painting their boats in the water, sending paint flakes into the water below. State law prohibits that, requiring boat owners to ensure that no “deleterious material” — bad stuff — goes into the water. But each week, Filter said, he saw it happening.

We took Filter’s concerns to the Unified Port of San Diego, the public agency responsible for managing land around the waterfront. Their environmental officials promised to follow up on our findings.

I promised to follow up, too. I checked in with port officials this week and confirmed that they lived up to their promise.

Karen Holman, the port’s environmental programs manager, said her agency spoke twice with the manager of Driscoll’s Wharf, the Point Loma marina that Filter identified as most problematic. It was the home of the High Roller, a boat whose paint was flaking into the water. The boat had basically been abandoned, Holman said.

Holman said the marina manager met with boaters docked there to remind them of the rules for maintaining boats. Port officials also spoke at a meeting for boaters there to offer a similar reminder.

“We take our role as an environmental steward seriously,” Holman said. “We want to be proactive and send good, strong messages and also educate people so they’re aware of what they’re doing.”

Since our story ran, the port has also:

• Inspected all marinas along the bay to ensure they’re complying with pollution rules. No citations were issued.

• Applied for two state grants totaling $80,000. They would allow the port to create a program for boaters to voluntarily turn in boats instead of abandoning them and to remove other boats that have been abandoned. Decisions on the grants are expected later this year.

Rob Davis is a senior reporter at Voice of San Diego. You can contact him directly at or 619.325.0529.

Like VOSD on Facebook.

Rob Davis was formerly a senior reporter for Voice of San Diego.

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.