GARIBALDI, Ore. – Fearing for their safety, the United States Coast Guard plans to issue a “no-bar crossing order” to the family living on a makeshift barge in Tillamook Bay.
“We helped them understand the vessel construction is more like a floating home, and is not seaworthy and would not survive the open ocean,” said Tillamook County Sheriff Andy Long, who, with U.S. Coast Guard Master Chief Michael Saindon, met with the Ebels yesterday, Thursday, Dec. 19. “I think letting them know some of our experience on the Pacific and my experience in Alaskan waters was convincing.”
Eddie and Denise Ebel, and their 10 children, are living aboard a 40-foot-by-80-foot barge in Crab Harbor, where they had been attempting to finish construction of the structure before their planned Christian mission to Alaska. They built much of the barge at Old Mill Marina, in Garibaldi, over the last year before launching it in the bay in November.
During their meeting, Long and Saindon also told the Ebels they are only allowed to live in a non-commercial vessel on the bay for a total of 30 days during a 12-month period, according to Oregon Division of State Lands rules concerning public lands. The regulations apply to submersed public land as well, said Long.
The Port of Garibaldi does not have space available for the barge in its harbor owing to the barge’s size, said Long. Even if the barge were small enough, “the Port has a no-live-aboard policy,” he added.
During the recent meeting, “We conveyed our serious concerns regarding safety for them and their family at the current location and the inability to have many options due to the size of the barge,” said Long. “We came to an agreement they needed a new plan and they will contact the Old Mill or another private landowner in the same area and attempt to place the barge in a more protected area where they can begin to dismantle the barge to a 20-foot-by-60-foot size allowing more options for compliance.”
Meanwhile, Long and Saindon plan to stay in contact with the Ebels and meet with them again shortly after the new year to issue relocation notice, as well as the no-bar-crossing order, said Long. At that point, they will also discuss the family’s plans for relocating the barge.
Michael de Blasi, Division of State Lands North Coast land manager, said the Department will give the Ebels 14 days to move their barge after authorities present them with the department’s notice to relocate.